The Gustavus Women’s Basketball Team wrapped up its regular season play last week with a decisive win over Concordia and rode that momentum into the first round of playoffs as the No. 5 seed.
The Gusties got off to a hot start against the Cobbers, and scored five points in the last minute of the first quarter to take a lead that they would hold for the rest of the game.
At halftime they led 37-27 and continued to add to this margin throughout the second half.
By the end of the game, the Gusties had scored 81 points and earned a 30-point victory.
Senior Kendall Thompson was productive for the Gusties with 17 points to go along with ten rebounds.
First-year Betsy Shoenrock added a career-high 14 points in 13 minutes.
However, the headline of the day was Senior Justine Lee, as she scored 17 points, and reached the 1,000 point career mark.
Lee is just the 13th Gustie in program history to reach 1,000 career points.
“She made shots early and has been such an important person in our program. She has always done the little things right that maybe don’t show up in stats, so to see her rise up into a leadership role is great,” Head Coach Laurie Kelly said.
With the win, the Gusties earned the No. 5 seed heading into MIAC playoffs and continued their streak as the only MIAC team to qualify for playoffs every year since the tournament’s inception in 2001.
As the fifth seed, the Gusties headed to St. Joseph, MN to take on fourth-seeded Saint Ben’s.
Both teams finished the season with identical 11-7 records in the MIAC, but the Bennies swept the regular season series with Gustavus in two close games so they were awarded home court advantage.
This time around, the Gusties came prepared and dominated all aspects of the game.
A fast break layup from Junior Alison Hinck at the buzzer gave the Gusties a 22-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, a streak of 13 unanswered points for the Gusties extended solidified their lead.
Going into halftime, they enjoyed a 41-18 lead.
The story was more of the same in the third quarter, as the Gusties outscored their opponents 22-14.
The game was all but over going into the fourth quarter, and the Gusties cruised to a 30-point victory.
“We just didn’t play well the first two games against them, but tonight we changed a lot of what we typically do. Defensively is where we made some bigger changes and we came out of the gate so well. We had balanced scoring, production off the bench, and great rebounding,” Coach Kelly remarked.
Sophomore Paige Richert led all scorers with 20 points on an efficient 9-13 from the field and added nine rebounds. Lee also added 13 points and five rebounds.
As Kelly stated, the Gusties were balanced and efficient on offense, shooting 55.2 percent from the field to the Bennies’ 28.8 percent.
They also dominated the glass, out-rebounding their opponents 46-23.
Points in the paint was a similarly lopsided stat, as the Gusties outscored the St. Ben’s 44-10.
With the win, the Gusties earn a date with the No. 1 seed and rival St. Thomas. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 pm on Thursday, February 21.
The Tommies won the regular season matchup by 22 points, outscoring the Gusties 54-30 in the paint.
They also beat the Gusties in the MIAC Championship last year. However, with two 30-point victories in their last two games, the Gusties are up to the challenge.
“We can play loose and enjoy the ride,” Kelly said.