The Gustavus women’s basketball team advanced to the conference championship game with its semifinal win over Concordia-Moorhead by the score of 63-52. After the first half, the score was tied 25-25, but the Gusties (22-4) outscored the Cobbers (18-9) 38-27 in the second half to claim the 11-point victory. Gustavus will meet St. Ben’s on Saturday for the MIAC Championship game in St. Joseph, Minn at 3pm.
The score was tied at 7-7 with 12:30 to play in the first half when Bri Monahan (Sr., Hutchinson, Minn.) laid in two points that triggered a 10-2 Gustavus run over the next two and a half minutes. Julia Schultz (Fy., Marshall, Minn.) capped the run with a three-pointer to give the Gusties a 17-9 lead. The Cobbers began to chip away at the lead when Annie Keeley made a three-pointer with 6:30 left in the half to make the score 19-12. Two minutes later, Melanie Hageman started a 6-0 Concordia run with a two-point basket. A three-pointer by Kaitlynn Gottenborg tied the score at 23-23 with 2:10 left to play. Monahan sank a pair of free throws at the 1:59 mark and Hageman laid in two points with 1:15 left to finish the scoring in the first half and the two teams went to the locker room tied at 25-25.
The first 12 minutes of the second half saw the two teams battle back and forth with neither team able to pull away. With the score tied at 40-40, Keeley hit a clutch trey to spark a 7-1 Cobber run. Hageman’s short jumper gave Concordia a 47-41 lead with 6:00 minutes left on the clock. Gustavus took control from this point on by scoring 20 of the next 22 points over the final 5:30 of the game. Erin Boese (Sr., Rochester, Minn.) started the Gustie run by hitting a jump shot to cut the lead to four points with less than six minutes to play. Monahan gave Gustavus the lead for good when she made a three-pointer with 3:43 on the clock. Jess Vadnais (Jr., Hudson, Wisc.) capped the run with two free throws to give Gustavus a 61-49 lead with :32 left. Hageman scored a three-point basket with :21 seconds to play to cut the lead to nine (61-54), but it was too little, too late for the Cobbers. Vadnais, who was 11-of-13 from the free throw line in the game, made the final score 63-52 by sinking two free throws with :19 seconds on the clock.
Vadnais led the Gusties in scoring with 20 points, while Monahan recorded a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Hageman led the Cobbers in scoring and also recorded a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds.
Jess Vadnais set the single-season scoring mark in the game with 497 points in 26 games. The previous mark was 495, set by Bri Monahan last season.
The Gustie victory snapped a five-game losing streak to the Cobbers over the past two seasons. Concordia had beaten Gustavus twice including the regular season claiming a 71-69 win in Moorhead and a 49-46 victory in St. Peter.
The Gusties will now advance to face rival St. Ben’s on Saturday. Gustavus will be making its second appearance in the championship game in the seven-year history of the MIAC post-season tournament with the other appearance coming in 2003.
The Gusties and the Blazers split the regular season series with St. Ben’s winning 67-52 in St. Joseph and Gustavus winning 66-58 in St. Peter. The winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, while the loser will have to sit and wait to see if the NCAA will offer an at-large bid to the runner-up.