The Gustavus Adolphus College women’s basketball team built up a 21-point lead midway through the second half and then held off a furious St. Ben’s rally to claim an important 66-58 win over the Blazers in St. Peter. The Gusties improve to 13-2 in the conference and move into a first place tie with St. Ben’s. Gustavus was led by Bri Monahan with 22 points, and Jess Vadnais with 21.
Both teams got off to a slow start and Gustavus held a 7-3 lead five minutes into the contest. The Blazers used a 10-0 run over the next five minutes to claim a 13-7 lead at te 10:26 mark. The six point lead would turn out to be the biggest lead of the game for St. Ben’s. Gustavus battled back to take a 16-15 lead with 6:06 left in the half and it would turn out that the Gusties would not trail again in the contest. Gustavus went on to outscore the Blazers 12-3 over the final six minutes of the half and take a 10-point lead (28-18) into the locker room at the intermission.
The Gusties would slowly build their lead to 18 points over the first seven minutes of the second half and led 42-24 with 12:43 left in the game. Gustavus continued to build its lead and held a 21-point advantage at 49-28 at the 9:28 mark. St. Ben’s immediately countered with an 8-0 run to cut the lead back to 13 at 49-36 with 8:14 left. Two free throws by Jess Vadnais with 5:22 left gave Gustavus a 14-point lead at 54-40, however the Blazers would come storming back and used a 10-0 run over the next three-and-half minutes to cut the lead to four at 54-50 with 2:55 left on the clock. The Gusties called a timeout and then got the ball to Jess Vadnais on a set play and the junior drained a clutch three-point basket pushing the lead to seven (57-51) with 2:31 on the clock. St. Ben’s responded with a three-point basket by Darby Noreen with 1:36 left to cut the lead back to four at 58-54. Gustavus held on to the lead by making eight-of-eight free throws in the final :90 seconds to claim the important victory.
Gustavus made an amazing 20-21 free throws on the day and that turned out to be the difference as St. Ben’s made one more field goal than the Gusties in the game (21-20), but Gustavus made 11 more free throws than the Blazers (9-15).
Monahan (22) and Vadnais (21) were the only players in double figures for Gustavus. The Blazers placed three players in double figures including Darby Noreen with 14, Mindy Schmidt with 11, and Jaime Goehner with 10.
The two teams split the season series as St. Ben’s posted a 67-52 win in St. Joseph in early December. The two teams are now tied atop the MIAC standings with 13 wins and 2 losses. Each team has seven regular season games left to play before the MIAC Playoffs begin on Tuesday, Feb. 20.