Men’s basketball on top!

Teddy Kaste-

The Gus Young court erupted into pandemonium last Saturday when the Gustavus Men’s Basketball team defeated the Hamline Pipers 72-71 to win the MIAC championship. The Gusties beat the Pipers – despite the answer to the Wordle coincidentally being Piper the day of the game (spooky). This MIAC championship win marks the 10th in program history, and the first since 2005.

The Gusties’ playoff run was made up of 3 games, which were all back-and-forth thrillers until the very end. In the first round, Gustavus took on the Bethel Royals, a team that had beaten the Gusties in regular season play. The two teams went back and forth the entire way, with the lead exchanging hands 8 times in the second half. With a minute left in regulation, however, following a clutch 3-point play from Junior Forward Spencer Swanson, the Gusties took a 3-point lead.

Bethel came down the floor looking to tie the game, however, Gustavus stuck to the Bethel players like glue, giving them little to no breathing room. Senior Adam Biewen stole the ball from the Bethel player, dribbled down the court, and ripped down a ferocious dunk which sent the student section into a frenzy, and putting a stamp on the victory, the final score was Gustavus: 85, Bethel: 81.

Swanson and Biewen led the team in scoring with 25 and 17 points, respectively. Gustavus won the game against Bethel, setting up a pivotal second-round game against the #2-seeded Carleton on the road in Northfield.

Crazy doesn’t even begin to describe what took place in the game between Carelton and Gustavus. Gustavus defeated Carleton 124-116 in the highest-scoring game in MIAC playoff history, and the score with 1:06 left in the game was Carleton: 87 Gustavus: 78.

The first half was competitive, and overall good for the Gusties as they led the game 40-36 into the break. Carleton came out in the second half on fire, however, and went on a scorching 17-1 run to take a big lead over the Gusties.

With 1:11 left in the game and down 10, Biewen knew the Gusties needed points, and fast. He got the ball well behind the three-point line, shot a deep three, and made it, cutting the deficit to 7. After two Carleton free throws, the deficit was back to 9 when Biewen, again, made another deep 3 to cut the deficit to 6.

With 36 seconds left in the game, Junior Brady Kienitz hit yet another 3 for the Gusties cutting the Carleton lead to only 3 points. Gustavus fouled Carleton, and they made both free throws, extending the lead to 5. Biewen hit another 3 with 21 seconds to go, cutting the deficit back to 2. However, yet again Carleton converted both of their free throws to extend their lead back to 4 with only 11 seconds left. Gustavus went the length of the floor when they found, you guessed it, Biewen yet again for another 3, cutting the lead to 1 with only 3 seconds to play. That shot Biewen made was his 4th last-minute 3-pointer of his career. Talk about clutch!

Biewen said of his heroic effort in the game against Carleton “Never in my life have I made some of the shots I made at the end of that game, but in the moment it felt like whatever shot I took was gonna go in.”

Gustavus immediately fouled Carleton and finally, they missed a free throw. They converted the second, however, and Gustavus only had 3 seconds to go the length of the floor, score, and keep their MIAC championship hopes alive. They passed the ball to Sophomore Guard Jonah Anderson, who dashed up the length of the floor and pulled up on a fadeaway jumper to force overtime. As the buzzer sounded, the shot kissed the backboard and went in to force overtime in one of the most improbable, borderline-impossible comebacks ever.

Anderson said on his buzzer beater: “It felt like I was living in a dream. Thinking about it still doesn’t feel real. But it is something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.” Thanks to Biewen and Anderson’s heroics, Gustavus was going to O.T.

As the game went into overtime, the entire Gustavus Basketball program was in shock from the coaches to the fans; even Gus the Lion himself couldn’t contain his anticipation. Gustavus looked to be in control of the first overtime, jumping out to a 101-96 lead, but Carleton –not willing to go out without a fight– clawed their way back to make the score 103-103 to send it to double overtime.

In the second overtime period, Gustavus made a few early layups, which helped them jump out to a lead. This time, Carleton could not keep up, as the Gusties outlasted the Knights in double O.T. 124-116.

The Gusties only had one day to come down from the crazy adrenaline high from the Carleton game. Kienitz provided some insight on how they grounded themselves saying,  “We settled down during Friday’s practice and did some Yoga while also getting some shots up and doing scout.”

The team, after playing an instant classic in Northfield against Carelton the day before, was now tasked with a red-hot Hamline team for the MIAC championship at home. With hardly any time to process what just happened against Carleton, the Gusties were on the floor battling the Pipers for the crown.Energized by a rowdy crowd at the Gus Young court, the Gusties jumped out to a 38-28 lead in the first half. Hamline, who were down 56-41 with 12 minutes left in the second half, had their backs up against the wall but refused to lie down and let the opportunity to win the MIAC championship slip from their grasp

They began chipping away at the Gustavus lead until they got back up. With 8 seconds left in the game, the score sat Gustavus: 72 and Hamline: 71. Hamline had the ball, and a chance to hit a buzzer-beater to silence the rowdy Gustavus crowd, and complete their storybook ending.

The Hamline guard dribbled the ball up the floor, scanning the court for options, but he couldn’t find anyone open to pass the ball too. He decided to take it himself, to take one shot for all the glory. Biewen got in his way, and put a hand in his face to contest the shot.

The shot was off target; it hit the bottom of the backboard and didn’t touch the rim as time expired. Gustavus won the basketball game and the MIAC championship 72-71. Gustavus fans erupted into pure ecstasy and stormed the court to celebrate the win. Gustavus Men’s Basketball had done it, capturing the MIAC championship.

Securing the coveted MIAC championship gets Gustavus a bid in the Division 3 NCAA tournament, their first since 2012. On March 1st, the Gusties will head to Platteville to face off with Loras in the first round in a matchup that promises to be exciting.

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