Bri Monahan (Jr., Hutchinson, Minn.) scored 26 points and Jess Vadnais (So., Hudson, Wis.) added another 20 as the Gustavus women’s basketball team posted a 73-71 win over Bethel Monday night in Arden Hills. The Gusties improve to 15-5 overall, 13-4 in the MIAC with the victory and locked down at least a first-round home game in the MIAC Playoffs.
The Royals controlled tempo during the early portions of the first half, jumping out to a 8-2 lead after three minutes of play on five points by Sarah Cotner and another three by Heather Davis. Vicky Peterson (So., Plymouth, Minn.) stepped in following an early foul on Monahan and scored four points to help the Gusties cut into the lead. A jumper by Vadnais with 13:09 to play in the period drew the teams even on the scoreboard and another 35 seconds later put Gustavus ahead for the first time at 15-13.
A jumper by Betsy Stevens tied the score at 15 with 12:00 to play, but the Gusties rattled off seven straight points behind a pair of jumpers and a free throw by Monahan to forge a 22-15 lead at the midway point of the first half. Gustavus extended the lead to nine points with less than three minutes to play and maintained it down the stretch, taking a 43-34 lead into the locker room at intermission.
Neither team was able to put a run together as the Gustie lead fluctuated between four and eight points during the first 15 minutes of the second half. Leading 66-59 with less than five minutes to play, a jumper by Monahan extended the Gustavus advantage back to a game-high nine points. Bethel’s JoLynn Thielke hit one of her four three-pointers with 4:13 to play to cut the lead to six points and another two minutes later to make the score 72-67 with 2:18 remaining in regulation. The teams traded free throws to give Gustavus a 73-68 lead inside the final minute of play, but another three-pointer by Thielke made it a one-possession game with 32 seconds to play.
Bethel called a timeout with 28 seconds to play in hopes of pressuring the Gusties into a turnover. Gustavus didn’t deliver on the turnover, but did miss its final field goal attempt, giving the Royals an opportunity with 2.2 seconds on the clock. However, Jen Ahlberg’s desperation attempt fell by the wayside, allowing the Gusties to escape with the victory.
Monahan, who had 17 points at halftime, finished 10-of-14 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Monahan also ripped down a game-high nine rebounds. Vadnais hit only seven of 14 field goal attempts but was flawless in five attempts from the charity stripe. Vadnais also picked up team-highs with four assists and four steals.
With 26 points against the Royals, Monahan moved into tenth place on the Gustavus career points list with 898 points. Monahan would need to average 20.4 points per game over the final four regular season games and the Gusties’ first MIAC Playoff game in order to reach the 1000-point mark this season. Monahan currently averages 19.2 points per game.
Vadnais moved into 22nd place all-time on the career points list with 635 points.
Peterson scored 10 points and pulled down five rebounds in 17 minutes of play, while Kenzie Consoer (So., Mankato, Minn.) contributed two points, two rebounds, four assists and two steals.