Gustavus Basketball teams exit NCAAs

Zachary Tlusty-

The Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams were both defeated in their first-round matchups in the NCAA round of 64. The Men’s team traveled to Platteville, Wisconsin to play Loras, ranked twentieth in the nation, and lost by a score of 64-89. The Women’s traveled to Oshkosh, Wisconsin to play Trine University, losing in a double-overtime thriller ending in a score of 58-61.

The Men’s team kept it close at the beginning of the first half but were unable to slow down Loras’ lights-out shooting as they closed the half shooting 10-12 from the field and the Gusties were not able to keep up with this efficient shooting. The team would go into the second half trailing by 22.

Gustavus shot one for 15 from the three-point line and 30% from the field in the first half while Loras shot 62% from the field. This difference in shooting percentages showed to be the difference in the first half.

This game was the Gustie’s first time in the NCAA tournament since 2012. It came off of three fun MIAC Playoff games and the team’s first MIAC Championship since 2005. Junior Brady Kienitz was able to reflect on the moment.

“It’s surreal. A dream come true if you will. Ever since I stepped foot on this campus, the goal has been to hang a banner in the rafters of the Lund Center. We finally did that. The culture has officially changed here in the Men’s Basketball program and I am so grateful to be a small part of it,” Kienitz said.

The second-half shooting did not improve for the Gusties as they were held to 37% from the field shooting 11-29. Loras still proved to have a remarkable offensive performance shooting 56% from the field as a team. Gustavus was not able to cut into the lofty Loras lead and were outscored by three in the second frame.

The final score of the game would be 64-89 in favor of the Loras Duhawks. Senior Wyatt Olson led the scoresheet for the Gusties with a double-double recording 18 points and 10 rebounds. Followed by Kienitz who totalled 15 points.

Despite the loss in the NCAA tournament the team had a great season and has shown great progress after missing the MIAC Playoffs last year. The only graduating senior, Landon Lantz, was able to reflect on the growth of the team that he has seen transform since being a First-year.

“I’m very proud of us upperclassmen in general building a stronger culture within the program. This senior class has gone through a lot, us coming in freshman year and learning to play college-level basketball within a global pandemic, head coaching change halfway through our careers, and adapting to new offensive and defensive schemes. We are a tough group that thrived in adversity. I know I am speaking for many of my teammates when I say this but winning the MIAC Championship this year and becoming a successful basketball team was a process that didn’t just start this year but has been a grind from the beginning of many of our careers,” Lantz said.

It was a great season for the men’s team this year and there is a lot to look forward to as the majority of the players will be back and will try to make another push at another MIAC Championship.

The Women’s team faced off against Trine University and it was a close game the entire time. Gustavus would get out to an early 8-2 lead, which was met with a quick run by the Thunder. The first quarter would end with a Gustavus lead of 12-10.

To start the second quarter Trine took advantage of shooting woes from the Gusties which would lead to a 12-2 run by the Thunder making the lead 22-14 midway through the second quarter. Gustavus would chip away at Trine’s lead and the half would end with a score of 27-21 in Trine’s favor.

Gustavus closed the third quarter only trailing by four. This is due to Gustavus giving up on three made field goals the whole quarter while the Gusties doubled them up making six. Gustavus has relied on their defense all year and when they needed it most it showed up this quarter and helped Gustavus keep the game manageable going into the fourth.

With 8:50 remaining to go in the game, Junior Rachel Kawiecki would tie the game with a jump shot. There were three lead changes following that jump shot by Kawiecki. A game-tying layup by Kawiecki with 1:51 left in the second half would be the last made basket of regulation, leading this game to overtime.

Gustavus then trailed by two in the first overtime until Senior Izzy Quick made a layup with 1:24 remaining in the game that would be the final bucket of the first overtime, leading to their second overtime.

With 8 seconds left the Gusties were trailing by three and Trine was at the line for two attempting to put the game on ice. Trine was unsuccessful in both attempts giving Gustavus a chance to tie the game and go for a third overtime. The ball ended up in senior Emma Kniefel’s hands. Sadly her three-point attempt was missed and the Gusties were upset by the Thunder and were leaving Wisconsin earlier than had hoped.

Gustavus shot 2-19 from three this game and shot a season-low 34.3% from the field. Baranick led the offense with 13 points. Kniefel was next with 12 points, five rebounds, and three steals.

Despite the early exit from the NCAA tournament Gustavus had a great season winning their third straight MIAC Championship in a row which is no easy feat. We look forward to next season where hopefully the Gusties will win another MIAC Championship and make another run for the National Championship.

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