Arden Hills, Minn. – The Gustavus women’s basketball team broke its recent trend and got off to fast start on Wednesday night in its 66-54 victory Bethel University at the Robertson Center Gym. With a ten point lead at halftime, the Gusties used stellar free throw shooting to keep Bethel from closing the gap in the second half.
“We got off to a better start and that was a main focus of ours coming into the game,” said Head Coach Laurie Kelly. “We made plays down the stretch and that was the difference. Bethel made some late runs but we were able to keep them in check with outstanding free throw shooting late in the game.”
Gustavus picks up its fourth consecutive MIAC victory and now is 4-0 in league play and 5-2 overall. With the loss in their home-opener, the Royals are 0-5 overall and 0-4 in the MIAC.
With a 4-3 lead in the first two minutes of the game, Gustavus broke open a 10 point lead (16-6) after going on a 12-3 run. After Bethel cut the lead to 18-12 with 8:05 on the clock, Gustavus scored on four straight possessions to grab its largest lead of the half at 11 points (25-14) with 6:23 left.
Gustavus’ advantage would close to eight before Julia Dysthe (White Bear Lake, Minn.) brought the frame’s scoring to a close on a layup with 1:18 on the clock, giving the Gusties a 31-21 lead heading into the break.
Led by Abby Rothebuehler (North Mankato, Minn.) who scored eight points and Dysthe who scored seven, Gustavus shot 46.6-percent from the field in the first half.
“In their first game of the season at home, the Royals played a very good game,” commented Kelly. “In the second half particularly, they started hitting shots and getting the ball inside. Parupsky carried them with 15 second half points and they shot the lights out.”
Like Kelly stated, the Royals were hot in the second half, going 14-for-24 from the floor. Parupsky led the way 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting in the frame. She would lead Bethel in scoring by the final buzzer with 20 points on a perfect shooting night in which she went 8-for-8 from field.
Bethel battled back to cut the lead to six on two occasions within the first five minutes of the second half. With a 34-28 lead with 17:32 remaining in the game, Gustavus used a 10-2 run go up 44-30 with 13:23 left to play.
The Royals refused to go away quietly, once again cutting the lead to six (46-40) now with 8:20 left. As before, Gustavus had an answer, building back a 12-point edge (56-44) with five minutes remaining.
Just when it looked as if Bethel was going to make one final push at a comeback, Stephanie Comer (Minnetonka, Minn.) put those thoughts to rest with a three-pointer at 2:43 that broke Bethel’s back and gave Gustavus a 59-49 lead with 2:43 remaining. The Gusties would make six of their last seven free tosses to seal the 12-point win.
Gustavus finished with three players in double-figures. Julia Dysthe paced the Black and Gold with a season/game-high 17 points after going 5-for-7 from the field, 1-for-1 from three-point range, and 6-for-6 at the free throw line. Abby Rothenbuehler earned the elusive double-double she had narrowly missed on several occasions through the first six games. Rothenbuehler finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds after going 4-for-10 from the floor. Karina Schroeder (Lake Crystal, Minn.) rounded out the group with another well-balanced night, scoring 11 points (4-11) and adding eight rebounds.
The Gusties controlled the boards by a 36-25 margin and recorded a season-best 16 offensive rebounds.
“It was good to see us win the battle on the glass, that was another one of our goals heading into the game,” Kelly stated. “Sixteen offense boards is an amazing stat and one we are proud of. The combination of Abby Rothenbuehler and Karina Schroeder was great and it was nice for them to get on the glass and lead us in that category.”
Gustavus shot 40-percent (22-55) from the field, 33.3-percent (2-6) from three, and a season-high 83.3-percent (20-24) at the free throw line. Thanks to its red-hot shooting performance in the second half, Bethel finished with a 47.8-percent shooting percentage from the field. The Royals were also 22.2-percent (4-18) from three and 66.7-percent (6-9) at the line.
“It was a good win for us,” concluded Kelly. “Our goal is go finish out the remainder of 2012 unbeaten in the MIAC and tonight was another step forward in accomplishing that goal. We have to stay focused, enjoy the win for now, and come back ready to close out the year on the road at Carleton.”
The Gustavus women’s basketball team will close out the calendar year in Northfield on Saturday with a game against Carleton beginning at 3:00 p.m.