Women’s basketball drops season opener

Allison Fajt – Staff Writer

The women’s basketball team opened their season Friday Nov. 12 in a game against the nationally ranked Simpson Storm. With a loss of 61-85 the Gusties have nowhere to go but up. The team traveled down on a bus for four hours to Iowa for the non-conference game.
“We had scrimmaged University of Sioux Falls and SMSU before this game. And USF and SMSU are two very good teams but you know it was a scrimmage and there was not a lot of pressure but this was the real first game and it’s a wake up call, this is the level we have to play at and the team that we want to be,” First-year Morgan Kelly said.
“…It’s a wake up call, this is the level we have to play at and the team that we want to be.”

The season opener was the first collegiate regular season game for most of the girls. “It feels different for a lot of us and we haven’t played in front of our parents in a year or so. It made it all worth going through last year to finally play in front of a crowd again and feel that environment that is so fun to play in front of,” Senior Grace Benz said.
Opening the season away from home proved its challenges. “We practice at our home gym every single day and the amount of fans that come out to our home games is way different than fans at away games,” Junior Maddy Rice said.
Starting the season for Gustavus were Kelly, Rice, Sophomores Emma Kniefel and Syd Hauger, and Junior Anna Sanders. Only two of the starters were players with experience from a regular college season. Simpson College led the score every quarter ending the first 27-18. As hard as they fought by halftime the Gusties were down 34-53.
Experience was the key to victory this weekend as there were a lot of fresh faces in the game playing for Gustavus. “Simpson has a lot of veteran players and returners, a lot of older girls with tons of experience and we are kinda starting from scratch. We are pretty young and we don’t have any returning starters,” Benz said.
After a half-time break the Gusties started to get their heads in the game. The team made major improvements and closed the 20 point gap and ended the third quarter 52-65. “We were finally getting some fire under us though they did pull away again because good teams tend to not let the other team get within a certain amount of points but…we really fought back,” Benz said.
“The first half was not very good because I think we weren’t really reacting well to how good they were and how experienced they are as a team but then we kind of talked at half time and we were trying to figure out what we need to fix and what we could control,” Benz said.
Even with a loss the Gusties still found a positive outlook on the game. “It was tough to lose that game for sure, but we are using it as a learning moment and… if that’s going to be rock bottom then that’s okay. To have a team come out of the gate like that will be good for us to set the tone, this is what college basketball is. We are a young team and we will learn,” Kelly said.
“It was tough to lose that game… We are using it as a learning moment…”

Each player is determined to make the team the best it can be. “I really want to be an impact player, someone that can be relied on and trusted on the floor. We can bring this team to another level and that’s something that I really want to focus on. I want to be able to run this offense well so that not only I can score but I can help get my teammates to score,” Kelly said.
“We are starting to get better and better, it was only our first game and we’ve had one month of preseason playing together and since there are so many sophomore and First-year players in our lineup that haven’t played together before, it’s been a little challenging but we are improving and I think we have a good future ahead of us,” Rice said.
Looking forward to the season the Gusties will play Luther Wednesday Nov. 17 for their first home game. The team will have another shot for a win and another chance to get used to playing as one team.

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