The Gustavus women’s basketball team advanced to the semifinals of the MIAC Playoffs with a 79-71 win over St. Thomas in St. Peter on Monday night. The Gusties, who are the #3 seed, will now play Carleton, the #2 seed, in Northfield on Wednesday night at 7:30 pm. Senior guard Kate Sandvig scored a career high 15 points to lead Gustavus.
The game was definitely played with playoff intensity and the sixth seeded Tommies gave the third-seeded Gusties everything they could handle. The scored was tied 12 times during the contest and there were 10 lead changes. Saint Thomas was quite effective in slowing the pace of the game and it frustrated Gustavus at times. In the end, however, it turned out to be the experience of the Gusties that turned out to be the difference. Senior guard Kate Sandvig made seven-of-eight free throws in the final 1:18 of the contest to preserve the victory for Gustavus.
The first half was a nip-and-tuck affair with neither team holding a lead of bigger than five points. Despite shooting 54.5 percent from the field (12-22), the Gusties trailed St. Thomas 34-32 at the intermission.
The second half was tight early, but with the score tied 46-46 at the 12:54 mark, Gustavus put a full-court press on the Tommies. The result was an 11-0 run that gave the Gusties a 57-46 lead and the Tommies would not be able to regain the lead the rest of the contest. Gustavus maintained its double digit lead until late in the game when St. Thomas used a 6-0 run to cut the lead to four points at 67-63 with 1:41 to play. Sandvig would score seven of the final 12 points for Gustavus at the free throw line. The Tommies kept the game close with clutch three’s by Katie Wiberg and Kristi Huegel.
Two free throws by Kristi Huegel cut the Gustavus lead to four at 72-68 with :31 left, but the Gusties countered with four consecutive free throws by Sandvig and Kristin Kachelmyer to push the lead back to eight with :23 left. Gustavus made three-of-four free throws in the final :14 to claim the victory.
Balanced scoring was a key for the Gusties as four players reached double digits including Sandvig with 15 points, Angie Peterson and Kachelmyer with 13 and Jen Klohs with 10. Saint Thomas was led by Erica Opdahl with 19, Katie Wiberg with 17, and Kristi Huegel with 15. Depth was also a key for Gustavus as the Gustie bench outscored the Tommie bench 30-14. Gustavus improves to 21-5 overall, while St Thomas finishes its season at 13-13.
Gustavus will now play Carleton in Northfield ina re-match of last year’s MIAC Playoff Championship game. This will be the third meeting of the season with each team having won on its home floor. The Knights beat the Gusties 88-79 in overtime in Northfield on January 19 and then the Gusties returned the favor by claiming a 79-71 win in St. Peter this past Saturday.