At times it is wasn’t pretty, but the Gustavus women’s basketball team was able to come away with a 62-53 victory over Bethel in the MIAC opener on Wednesday night in St. Peter, Minn. Molly Geske led the way with a game-high 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting. The Gusties improve to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the MIAC, while Bethel starts its season 0-1 following the loss.
“A win is a win,” said Head Coach Mickey Haller. “It is big for our team to get this first one [MIAC game] under our belt.”
The Gusties jumped out to an 8-2 lead by the 16:11 mark of the first half on a layup by Molly Mathiowetz. After Bethel switched to a zone around the halfway point of the half, the Gusties ran into scoring problems and the Royals were able to tie the game at 16-16 at the 5:39 mark. Three pointers by Geske and Kelsey Florian put the Gusties up 24-21 heading into the locker rooms.
In the first half, Florian and Mathiowetz led Gustavus in scoring with nine and seven points, respectively. Florian was 2-2 from the field and 4-4 from the free throw line, while Mathiowetz was 2-4 from the field and 3-4 from the line. Kelly Swenson was Bethel’s leading scorer with 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Gustavus outshot Bethel 33.3 percent (7-21) to 20.6 percent (7-34) in the first half.
The two teams went back-and-forth for the opening eight minutes of the second half, as Gustavus’s largest lead was five points within the time-span. The Royals were able to keep the game close with solid free throw shooting, going 9-11 in the half. A jumper just inside the three point line by Eli Benz at the 12:28 mark sparked an 11-2 run that gave Gustavus a 49-37 lead with 8:04 remaining. Geske was 5-6 from the free throw line within the run. The Gusties were able to get to the line 19 times in the half, converting on 15 trips, as Abby Rothenbuehler (6-6) and Geske (5-6) combined to go 11-12 from the charity stripe in the half.
A layup by Florian with three minutes left gave Gustavus its largest lead of the game at 58-45. Geske led the Gusties in the second half, going 4-5 from the field for 14 points. Rothenbuehler contributed six points, while Mathiowetz brought down six boards.
“In the second half we settled down against their zone. We were patient, we got good looks and shot 55 percent in the half. I’ll take that any day,” commented Coach Haller.
Despite losing the turnover battle 18-10, Gustavus out-rebounded the Royals 40-33 in the game. Florian was the only other Gustie to finish in double-figures with 14 points. She was 3-5 from the field and 7-8 at the line. Molly Mathiowetz was one point shy of a double-double, turning in nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Bethel’s Swenson finished with 16 points, while her teammate Scottie Moats had 12.
Gustavus shot 43.9 percent (18-41) from the field and 79.3 percent (23-29) from the free throw line. Bethel finished at 28.1 percent (18-64) from the floor and 80 percent (16-20) from the stripe. Both teams struggled from three point range, as Gustavus was 3-12 and Bethel was 1-10.
“This is a great way to start the MIAC season. We didn’t know what to expect from Bethel. They finished last season strong and they will be tough later in the year,” said Haller. “Some of our young players got a lot of time tonight, which is important, and this is a big win for us.”
The Gustavus women’s basketball team will host Concordia on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 1:00 p.m. on Gus Young Court.