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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

MIAC Champs! Knights clinch top seed in playoff tournament with win at Macalester

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Three days after clinching a share of the MIAC’s regular-season crown, the Carleton College men’s basketball team claimed the title outright with a 74-70 victory at Macalester College. The Knights made fifteen three-pointers in the game, giving them the top seed in the upcoming MIAC Playoff Tournament.

“Fantastic game, fantastic environment and fantastic win for our team today,” said Carleton head coach Ryan Kershaw. “We knew the type of battle it would be, and our guys were up for the challenge. To go on the road against an excellent opponent and to win our first outright MIAC conference championship in over 100 years is an outstanding accomplishment that our group is very deserving of. I’m elated for our entire team of players, coaches, parents and families that we get to share in this experience together.”

Carleton has now won six MIAC regular-season titles overall (1920-21, 1921-22, 1922-23, 2005-06, 2010-11 and 2022-23). The 2005-06 and 2010-11 squads were co-champions with the University of St. Thomas, so this is the Knights’ first outright MIAC title in more than a century. Carleton was a member of the Midwest Conference from 1924 to 1982 and won 14 total titles in that time, with five of those being shared crowns. The program’s last outright Midwest Conference title came during the 1965-66 season.

After making only two three-pointers in a home victory against St. John’s University in the Knights’ previous contest, Carleton (20-3, 15-3 MIAC) flipped the script entirely on Saturday. With Macalester’s (15-8, 11-7 MIAC) Badou Ba patrolling the paint, Carleton big men Jeremy Beckler ’23 and Matt Banovetz ’24 combined for 49 points, thanks in part to an impressive 11-for-17 showing from beyond the arc.

Carleton used its long-range effectiveness to take an early lead. The Knights made four 3-pointers — including a pair from Beckler —  across the opening five minutes and earned their largest lead of the game, 15-5, barely five minutes into the contest. The Scots slowly clawed back, holding the Knights to only 18 points over the remainder of the half while scoring 29 points as the home team led 34-33 at intermission.

Carleton came out of the break in much the same way as they began the first half. Banovetz nailed a 3-pointer and Beckler added two more in a quick 9-0 run. Similar to the first half, Macalester fed off the energy of a strong home crowd and came back to tie the game at 54-54 with 7:58 left to play. Banovetz and Beckler then got the Knights’ offense restarted, with each adding a 3-pointer as the pair went on an 8-0 run.

After the Scots closed to within a possession, another Beckler triple gave Carleton a 68-62 lead with less than two minutes remaining.

The Knight lead was down to four at 68-64 with less than 30 seconds remaining, and the game was determined at the free throw line. Over the final 23 seconds, Beckler and Banovetz went a combined 6-for-6 while Williams and Colby Gold were only 6-of-10 at the charity stripe.

Beckler’s 29 points were good for his fifth-straight 20-point performance and 16th of the campaign. Banovetz picked up 20 points of his own and 11 rebounds, good for his second 20-point double-double of the season. Luke Harris ’25 was the third Knight in double figures, scoring 10 while grabbing 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the year in addition to handing out a game-high six assists.

As for the three-ball, Beckler’s seven triples tie the sixth-highest single-game figure in recorded team history, joining Banovetz (Dec. 30) and Beck Page ’23 (Jan. 21) for the third such individual effort this season alone (see chart below). As a team, the Knights made 15 deep-balls, tying the eighth-highest in total recorded program history and the fourth such performance in the campaign. (see charts below)

This is the second 20-win season in the 114-year history of Carleton Men’s Basketball, trailing only the 21-7 mark put up by the 2005-06 squad. This year’s roster still has multiple opportunities to try to add to its win total, with two regular season games plus the postseason still on the schedule.

Williams finished with 28 points, while Gold added 11. Noah Shannon and Robert Grace chipped in 10 points apiece off the bench.

Carleton shot 41% overall and went 15-of-31 (48.4%) beyond the arc. Macalester was held to 36.8% shooting overall and an 8-of-32 showing (25%) from long range.

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