Autumn Zierman – Staff Writer
The Gustavus women’s basketball team won its fifth consecutive game Saturday afternoon, beating Macalester 71-63 to improve to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the MIAC.
After three lead changes and five tie scores in the opening six minutes, Morgan Kelly hit a jumper to give the Gusties a 12-10 lead which they held the rest of the game. Gustavus led 16-14 at the end of the first quarter and rattled off eight unanswered points in the second for a 26-16 advantage with 4:49 on the clock. The Gusties outscored the Scots 23-10 in the second and led 39-24 at halftime. Despite the victory, the team feels they could have pushed themselves harder and it reflects in their post-game discussions.
“We expected to play better, I believe we have the talent to win the MIAC, we have the grit and talent to do it. But the way we played against Macalester; it was not championship. Everyone is gonna have a bad day once in a while, but we are always grinding and always learning: If you watch our first game with Simpson versus probably our best game with Carlson, we look like two totally different teams,” Kelly said.
“Overall, it felt good to pull off the win over Macalester. There were some good moments in the game where things were flowing for us and we were accomplishing our goals on defense, however we did have a rough second half in terms of expectations from ourselves. Sometimes you win ugly and that was kind of how this game went,” Sophomore Emma Kniefel said.
Macalester won the third quarter, cutting the deficit to single digits at 51-43 heading to the fourth, but the Gusties closed out the game by not allowing the Scots to come within seven points the rest of the way.
Macalester out-shot the Gusties 47.2-39.7 percent from the floor, but the Scots committed 20 turnovers compared to Gustavus’s 12. The Gusties also played well in transition, outscoring the Scots 20-2 on fast break points. As a team, the Gusties tallied 13 steals.
“We struggled shooting but were able to capitalize in transition and specifically the second quarter which allowed us to pull out the win. It’s been great to get on a winning streak and see so many players on our team see success on the floor. Hopefully we can carry that momentum into our next game against Augsburg,” Senior Sienna Wiebusch said.
“Practices can be very hard, but because everyone is around supporting you— we call it “shared suffering,” we make it through,” Kelly said.
“Our mantra that are always talked about before games control the pace and energy of the game, our defense starts our offense, and play hard every minute you are on the court, our team has suffered some injuries at the beginning of the season so it’s been impactful for all of us to realize that we all need to step out on the court playing your hardest every game because next game is never guaranteed,” Junior Madeline Rice, who added 12 points off the bench at the game, said.
The team is young this year, COVID having kept people from the court and others having graduated, there are 14 First-year and Sophomores to the total 6 upperclassmen.
“No one is bigger than the team, which has brought us closer together. We have reinvented ourselves this year, with new drills, new offense, but there has been a longstanding culture in Gustavus basketball of hard work and standard of play to build from. Really though, we are a team of best friends— and that means a lot, even in the moments you are down you have someone to lift you up,” Kelly said.
“No one is bigger than the team, which has brought us together. We have reinvented ourselves this year…”
The women are determined this year to win the MIAC; everyone interviewed cited it as a team goal. With a winning streak of 4-0 in the MIAC league the team heads into Wednesdays game with Augsburg ready to prove they deserve the spot they occupy, and all of Gustavus is cheering them on as they do.