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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Men’s BBall blows chance for Tommie upset

<e to reflect on the men’s basketball team’s loss to St. Thomas last Saturday, former NFL coach Denny Green would likely bellow, “We let ‘em off the hook!” And he’d be right.

The Knights did indeed squander a golden opportunity to notch a historic upset of the nationally No. 5 ranked Tommies, choking at the free-throw line in crunch time and consequently falling 58-55 in a gut-wrenching loss. The defeat ended the Knights six-game winning streak and foiled Carleton’s bid to break the Tommies’ run of 53 straight conference home victories.

Playing with the fury of an unpreened Joe Scott, the Knights stormed to a double-digit lead in the first half, much the way they had done in the team’s last encounter on Jan. 9. This time, however, the lead lasted for longer, with the Knights owning a 12-point advantage with under four minutes to go until intermission. Despite having their stars Tyler Nicholai and Joe Scott held to a combined two points in the period, the Tommies closed the half with a critical run of six unanswered points to enter the locker room with a more manageable 34-28 deficit on hand.

Momentum shifted to St. Thomas in the second half, with Carleton’s lead evaporating within only a few minutes of play being resumed. The Knights’ defensive grit kept the Tommies within striking distance as the game went down to the wire.
With two minutes to go, Blaise Davis connected from deep to tie the score at 55 apiece. With no bad omens overtly apparent, the Knights had little reason to believe that Davis’ triple would represent their last sign of offense, nor that the final two minutes of play were to be as ill-fated as the voyage of The Pequod in Moby-Dick.

It’s common knowledge that Bryan Rosett and Seth Jonker can occasionally emulate Shaq’s dominant post moves, but they usually spare fans their imitation of The Big Aristotle at the free throw line. Sadly that wasn’t the case in the clock’s final ticks when Carleton’s typically cash-money big men missed four crucial free throws in the final sixteen seconds (five if you count a St. Thomas lane violation).

Trailing by one, Rosett earned a trip to the line with only sixteen seconds left and a chance to put the Knights on top. Rosett missed both shots, but a St. Thomas lane violation seemed to be a godsend that could potentially rescue the Knights, until Rosett missed his third shot, too.

After St. Thomas returned the favor by choking on two free throw attempts of their own, Seth “Dutch Crunch” Jonker was given another chance to make the upset a reality when he was fouled with four seconds remaining. Like his comrade before him, Jonker missed once and then missed again, enabling the Tommies to slither away with a win.

Most importantly, the loss prevented the Knights from continuing their rabid ascent of the MIAC standings. Carleton is now poised to clinch the sixth and final playoff spot, but by winning their remaining three games down the stretch, they could still dramatically improve their postseason seeding, as four other teams are packed within two games of one another.

The Knights face their biggest challenge remaining on the schedule when they host Augsburg in the regular season home finale on Saturday. Last month the Knights suffered a 73-70 double-overtime setback to the Auggies, and are out for revenge. Retribution will not come easy, however, as Augsburg is tied for second best in the MIAC and has won four of their last five games. Action will tip off from West Gym at.

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