St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus women’s basketball team opened up its MIAC schedule with a 75-66 victory over Hamline University on Wednesday night at Gus Young Court.
“Although we played better basketball in the three games leading up to tonight, it feels good to come away with a victory in our MIAC-opener,” said Head Coach Laurie Kelly. “You have to give Hamline a lot of credit – they came out with a lot of intensity and played an up-tempo game. Jordan Sammons stepped up and was a leader in the second half and that is what kept them in the game.”
Gustavus improves to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the MIAC with the win, while Hamline drops to 0-2 overall and 0-1 in the MIAC.
“Each game against an MIAC opponent is a battle,” added Kelly about tonight’s win. “It doesn’t matter who you play, it’s a grind every time you step on the court. Tonight wasn’t the best game we’ve played, but when when we needed to make plays down the stretch, we made them. We came up with the big rebounds, finished from the line, and showed a great deal of composure in a tight, back-and-forth game.”
With 2:27 remaining in the contest, Hamline’s Jordan Sammons tied the game at 64-64 with a fast-break layup. From that point on, it was all Gustavus. A free throw by Britta Rinke (Sr., Waconia, Minn.) at the 2:05 mark kicked off a 5-0 Gustavus scoring-run that turned out to be the difference in the game. Gustavus capped the run and led 69-64 after two free throws by Rachelle Blaschko (Sr., Henderson, Minn.) with :58 seconds left.
Hamline cut the lead to three (69-66) with :39 seconds left, but the Gusties continued to make free throws and closed the game with a another 5-0 scoring-run. Gustavus went 6-for-6 at the line in the final minute of the game.
“She was very good for us on both sides of the floor late in the game,” commented Kelly on Gustavus’s top scorer, Britta Rinke, who led the offensive charge in the second half. “Early on she wasn’t looking for her shot as much as we’ve seen her do in the past. In the second half she became more offensive minded and really got us going. She’s one of the leaders we look to for a spark and I thought she provided the one that pushed us over the top.”
Rinke led Gustavus in scoring for the second consecutive game, turning in 21 points after going 6-for-14 from the field, 2-for-3 from three-point range, and 7-for-11 from the free throw line. She scored 16 of her points in the second half after going 5-of-9 from the floor and 2-for-2 from three-point range.
Despite being outshot 41.9-to-32.1-percent in the first half, Gustavus was able to head into its locker room down just four points (32-28) at halftime.
The Gusties took back the advantage within the first two minutes of the second half. After that, two teams traded the lead eight times before a pair of Rinke free tosses at the 4:05 mark put Gustavus on top for good.
Gustavus shot 35.9-percent in the second half, but took better care of the ball and recorded just three turnovers.
Other leading scorers for Gustavus included Karina Schroeder (So. Lake Crystal, Minn.), Lindsey Johnson (So., Edina, Minn.), and Rachelle Blaschko. Schroeder scored 14 points on 5-of-18 shooting and brought down a career-high 19 rebounds (8 defensive) for her second double-double of the season. Johnson added 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting, and Blaschko scored 10 after making one field goal and going 8-for-10 at the charity stripe.
“Karina is a great presence inside and for her to struggle around the basket is unusual. That’s going to happen, but the great thing about Karina is that she gives you other elements aside from her scoring,” Kelly said about her sophomore post. “This was a good learning experience for her because it was the first time this year that she struggled offensively. Despite that, she came up with some big boards and knocked down key free throws at the end.”
Gustavus finished the game 34.3-percent (23-67) from the field, 40-percent (4-10) from three, and 65.8-percent (25-38) at the line. Hamline shot 42.4-percent (25-59) from the field, 21.7-percent (5-23) from three, and 61.1-percent (11-18) at the stripe. Piper Jordan Sammons led all scorers with 30 points on 11-of-26 shooting.
“You feel good after a conference win,” concluded Kelly. “I told my younger players today, ‘What happens early in the season can determine what happens late in the season.’ There are games that you’re just not going to play as well as you want. Today we got good looks, but just couldn’t get them to fall. Most importantly, we earned a nice win even though we didn’t play our best basketball.”
The Gustavus women’s basketball team will be at home for the third straight game on Saturday, Dec. 7 when it welcomes Concordia College to Gus Young Court for a 1:00 p.m. showdown.