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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Men’s Basketball chases bitter taste of defeat with Easy Mac

<r may have gotten off to a frigid start in a meteorological sense, but things are heating up on the hardwood for the Carleton men’s basketball team. The Knights (7-6, 3-5 MIAC) have welcomed their peers back to campus with the season’s most spirited stretch of play thus far, sandwiching two convincing conference victories around a hard-fought loss to St. Thomas, ranked #5 nationally.

2010 marks the centennial of Carleton basketball, and the program has acted quickly to observe this festive occasion by rewriting several long-standing team records. Overhaul of the hallowed record book began on Jan.4, when junior forward Seth Jonker torched the host Saint Mary’s Cardinals for a career-high 25 points on astounding 10-for-11 shooting. Jonker’s almost infallible shooting touch on the night represented the hottest shooting performance in Carleton’s history, trumping previous record holder Jake Phillips’ 9-of-10 game against Macalester that came on Feb. 14, 2007. With Jonker’s historically hot hand leading the way, the Knights cruised to an 80-63 triumph.

Even with the momentum they had gleaned by thumping Saint Mary’s, the Knights were still considerable underdogs heading into their home game against nationally ranked foe St. Thomas. Undaunted by neither their guests’ accolades nor Joe Scott’s gelled hair, the Knights stormed to a 15-1 lead in the contest’s first six minutes to electrify the West Gym faithful. At that point, it appeared that the Knights might deny the Tommies their MIAC record 31st straight conference win, but they were unable to stifle St. Thomas’ potent offense for long. By halftime, they had knotted the score at 23, and Tyler Nicolai’s hot second half was sufficient to preserve the Tommies’ winning streak, as Carleton’s noble effort fell short, 60-51.

Easy Mac takes only three and a half minutes to prepare, and it took about that long for the Knights to remove all suspense from their win over Mac that was, well… easy. So easy in fact, that the Knights’ 76-34 rout of the lowly Scots featured record setting on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. The 42 point margin of victory represented Carleton’s most dominant conference win ever, while the meager sum of 34 points totaled by Macalester marked the school’s best defensive effort against a MIAC opponent during Guy Kalland’s 26 year tenure as head coach.

Jeremy Sutherland set the tone for the Knights, leading all scorers with 16 points including an emphatic two-handed throwdown in transition. Sutherland’s heroics were nicely complemented by a breakout performance from backup point guard Tom Sawatzke, who netted a career high 15 points on 7-8 shooting from the field. The modest freshman attributed much of his success to the fact that he was simply “the recipient of a lot of good fast break passes” and all in all, he aptly summarized Carleton’s record-shattering night by calling it “a fun game.”

While The Knights’ recent success has pushed them back above .500 and into the thick of the MIAC standings, they face a formidable gauntlet of conference competition in the coming weeks. The Knights will next see action this Saturday when they travel to Augsburg before returning to the friendly confines of West Gym to host Bethel on Monday night.

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