The Gustavus women’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking 56-54 loss to St. Ben’s in the championship game of the MIAC Post-Season Tournament in St. Joseph on Saturday afternoon. The Gusties will now wait to see if they will receive a at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The tournament field will be announced on Sunday evening.
The game lived up to its billing as the two teams entered as the #1 (St. Ben’s) and #2 (Gustavus) seeds in the tournament. The Gusties were down by six (55-49) with 3:29 left in the game and rallied to cut the lead to two at 55-53 on two free throws by Bri Monahan with 1:21 left. Ariel Tauer made 1-of-2 free throws with 1:10 left and that would give the Blazers a 56-53 lead. St. Ben’s would not score the rest of the game. Gustavus freshman Julia Schultz made 1-of-2 free throws with :52 left to make the score 56-54. The Blazers missed a shot with :20 left to play and the Gusties brought the ball down the floor with a chance to take the lead or tie the game. Unfortunately for Gustavus, the Gusties turned the ball over with :03 seconds on the clock. Gustavus fouled immediately putting Mackenzie O’Neil at the line for St. Ben’s. O’ Neil missed the front end of the one-and-one, and the Gusties rushed the ball to half-court before calling a timeout with :00.5 seconds left to play. Gustavus tried to score off of the out-of-bounds pass, but the Blazers intercepted the pass and escaped with the win and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. St. Ben’s and the Gusties now have identical overall records of 22-5.
Bri Monahan led Gustavus in scoring with 16 points. Jess Vadnais was the only other Gustie player in double figures with 12. The intense defensive battle led to a tough shooting day for both squads. Gustavus shot 36.7 percent from the field (18-of-49), while St. Ben’s shot 30.0 percent from the field (18-of-60). Gustavus led 31-29 at the half, however the Blazer’s outscored the Gusties 27-23 in the second half to claim the two-point victory.
Gustavus will now wait to find out if it will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA field will be announced on Sunday night approximately 10:00 pm at ncaasports.com. Only the teams selected to participate will be announced on Sunday night. The pairings for the tournament will not be released until Monday morning.