Take a deep breath Bethel fans because your men's basketball team knocked off No. 3 seeded Carleton College, who came in with 14 consecutive wins, and earned the right to host the 2017 MIAC Championship in the Robertson Center for the first time in program history. The No. 2 seed Royals (20-6) will face No. 4 seed Saint John's University, who upset No. 1 seed St. Thomas in St. Paul, on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
BU and the Knights (18-9) were dead even throughout nearly the entire game, but the Royals created a little separation at the 5:08 mark in the second half when Granger Kingland hit a 3-pointer from the corner that put Bethel up by 6. Trevor Hall and Jack Jenson each cashed in on a layup at the rim to put the Royals up 10 with 2:15 remaining, but BU finished 1-for-8 at the foul line down the stretch and Carleton crept back to make it a four-point finish.
Carleton posted 41 rebounds, opposed to Bethel's 40 and the Knights shot 42.9 percent, whereas BU finished just 35.5 percent from the floor. But where the Royals made hay was defensively, as they forced Carleton into 19 turnovers, which led to a 22-9 differential in points scored off of turnovers and a 6-0 margin in fast-break points.
Granger Kingland led the Royals on offense, as the freshman finished with a game-high 15 points and seven rebounds in 37 minutes of play. Derek Magnuson posted 12 points and four boards, while Trevor Hall recorded 10 points, eight rebounds, and four steals. Also having an impressive performance was Jack Jenson, who tallied seven points, six rebounds, three steals, and two blocks in 25 minutes, and Bridgeport Tusler, who netted six points, eight boards, four steals, and three assists.
Kevin Grow led Carleton with 13 points and eight rebounds, while Kent Hanson added 10 points and eight boards.
Saturday's game between the Royals and Johnnies is expected to be a sell-out, so fans are encouraged to arrive early. Bethel fans are also encouraged to wear blue for the "Blueout". Tickets for the championship tilt are $7 for adults and $3 for students.