Bethel University's men's basketball team defeated St. Olaf College on the road Tuesday night in their MIAC opener by a final score of 67-59. The Royals (3-1, 1-0 MIAC), who have now won three straight, led the Oles (2-3, 0-1 MIAC) by 18 after six minutes played in the second half and, despite a late comeback attempt by St. Olaf, finished with a 12-8 run that secured the eight-point victory.
The Royals grabbed their first lead of the game at the 15:38 mark in the first half and refused to relinquish their advantage throughout the remainder of the game. In fact, after a 5-5 tie in the first 2:23, Bethel went on a 15-4 run, which carried BU the rest of the way.
The Royals led 46-28 with 13:53 remaining in the game, but St. Olaf made a significant comeback that cut the margin to four with 4:16 left on the clock. Bridgeport Tusler gave BU a much-needed lift with a 3-pointer on Bethel's next possession and a defensive rebound on the ensuing Ole's possession though and from then on out St. Olaf never came within six points.
BU exposed the Oles on the glass, as the Royals out-rebounded St. Olaf 42-26, including a 13-4 difference on offense, throughout Tuesday's contest. Meanwhile, the Oles forced Bethel into an unprecedented 15 turnovers, which is the most so far this season.
BU was held to just 37.7 percent shooting, including a 26.9 clip from downtown, but where the Royals separated themselves was at the charity stripe, where they finished 14-of-19, opposed to St. Olaf, who was just 5-of-7.
Brycen Wojta scored a game-high 16 points, thanks to a 4-of-8 night from downtown and a 4-of-5 performance from the free throw line. Trevor Hall and Derek Magnuson each stuffed the stat sheet, as Hall recorded 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and four steals, and Magnuson composed 11 points, eight boards, and three steals. Bridgeport Tusler added 10 points, seven rebounds, and two steals.