The Gustavus women’s basketball team kept its hopes for a first-round bye in the MIAC Playoffs alive Wednesday night with a 75-50 win over St. Olaf in Northfield. Junior post player Bri Monahan (Hutchinson, Minn.) scored 19 to lead the Gusties, followed closely by sophomore guard Jess Vadnais (Hudson, Wis.) with 18.
The Oles put the game’s first points on the board on a pair of jumpers by Kristina Stoermer, but a jumper by Vadnais and a three-pointer by Marit Sviggum (Kenyon, Minn.) gave the Gusties the lead with 17:37 to play in the first half. The shot from downtown was only the fourth made in the career of the senior point guard not especially known for shooting the ball and helped Gustavus score nine straight points over a 94 second span to take a 9-4 lead.
Three-pointers by Vadnais and Michelle Linbo (Sr., Rochester, Minn.) helped push the Gustie lead to six points at 15-9 before Natalie Rigelman completed an old-fashioned three-point play to cut the Gustavus lead in half at 15-12 with 14:48 to play. The Gusties scored the next eight points to lead 23-12 with 9:33 to play, but would be held with out a field goal over the next 6:45 as the Oles came charging back to tie the game at 24-24. The 12-1 St. Olaf run was capped off by a pair of free throws by Stoermer. The only Gustavus point during the stretch came courtesy of a made free throw by Monahan. The Gusties bounced back, however, outscoring the Oles 8-1 over the final 2:48 of the half to take a 33-25 lead to the lockers at intermission.
In the second half, Gustavus took the game over, holding St. Olaf to 6-of-21 shooting and forcing 12 turnovers. The Gusties, who committed only three turnovers in the second half, held a 15-0 advantage in points off turnovers and an 8-0 advantage in second chance points. 13 of Vadnais’ 18 points came in the second half as Gustavus shot 51.5 percent from the field (17-33) as a team.
Monahan finished with 19 points on 8-of-17 shooting, eclipsing the 900-point barrier in the process. Monahan now has 917 points for her career, ninth on the Gustavus career points list. She also pulled down five rebounds, had three assists, two steals and a blocked shot to her credit. Vadnais hit six of 13 shots from the field, including two of five three-pointers to finish with 18 points. She was also 4-of-6 from the line and picked up four assists, three rebounds and a pair of steals.
Erin Boese (Jr., Rochester, Minn.) finished with 10 points, her highest point output since a Dec. 5 win over St. Kate’s. First-year Emily Nelson (Mankato, Minn.) added nine points and a team-high three steals. Senior Sara Boldt, playing just up the road from her hometown of Faribault, had a very balanced stat line with seven points, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
No Ole reached double figures in points, but Rigleman and Holly Grimsrud came closest, each finishing with nine points. Rigelman, who along with Christine Schwichtenberg played her final game at Skoglund Center Wednesday night, also pulled down ten rebounds.
The Gusties finished 30-of-61 from the field. The 30 made field goals is the second-highest total for a game this season, trailing only the 34 made in the 72-68 win over St. Kate’s on Dec. 5, 2005.
Gustavus returns home Saturday hosting Augsburg in another MIAC tilt. The Auggies (6-16, 4-14 MIAC) upset Concordia (16-6, 13-4 MIAC) 64-60 Wednesday night in Minneapolis.