History did not repeat itself as the Gustavus women’s basketball team withstood a second-half rally from Bethel to hang on for a 83-77 win on Wednesday night in Arden Hills. The Golden Gusties entered halftime with a 43-24 lead and was able to hold off the lone unbeaten team in the MIAC to improve the squad’s record to 2-1 overall and in conference play. Bethel suffered its first loss of the season dropping to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the MIAC.
After Bri Radtke (So., Winsted, Minn.) scored the opening basket on a layup, the Golden Gusties never relinquished the lead. Gustavus broke out to a small lead before a Gabriella Gustafson jump shot cut the Gustie lead to one point. However, that was as close as Bethel would get in the contest. Gustavus would later go on a 28-6 run that spanned ten minutes before being capped off by a Jess Vadnais (Sr., Hudson, Wis.) three-point shot with 1:07 left in the first half for a 43-19 lead. After committing 17 turnovers in the period, the Royals closed out the half with a 5-0 run of their own to cut the lead to 43-24 at intermission.
Bethel gradually began chipping away at the lead in the second half, but did not cut the lead until the Royals went on a 14-0 run in four minutes. With 8:50 remaining in the contest, Gustavus saw its lead dwindle down to 59-51. The Gusties countered with six unanswered points including two layups from Radtke for a 65-51 lead two minutes later. The Royals continued to put scoring runs together, but would not get closer than five points for the rest of the contest as Gustavus shot 12-14 from behind the charity stripe in the last 1:27.
However, Emily Nelson (Jr., Mankato, Minn.) would steal the show literally in the last minute of play. Nelson stole the ball from Shari Laugen with 00:43 left and converted both free throws for a 77-69 lead. Twenty seconds later, Nelson would cause another Bethel turnover and hit both free throws to put the game out of the Royals’ reach for the 83-77 victory.
Jess Vadnais (Sr., Hudson, Wis.) finished with a game-high 29 points to go along with shooting 11-13 from behind the free throw line. Gustavus was given an extra offensive boost off the bench from Molly Mathiowetz (Fy., Sleepy Eye, Minn.), who compiled 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Nelson recorded nine points, the two pivotal steals, and was 6-6 from the free-throw line in the last ninety seconds. Bethel had two players finish in double-digits as well as Gabriella Gustafson and Annagret Nautsch ended the game with 28 and 20 points, respectively. Nautsch also led the Royals with 10 rebounds. Both squads shot 39%, but the Royals turned the ball over 26 times compared to 19 turnovers for the Gusties. Bethel has not defeated Gustavus since February 12, 2001.
The Golden Gusties will face the Saint Benedict Blazers on Wednesday night in St. Peter at 7:30 pm in another tough MIAC match-up. Bethel will continue its current home stand when the Royals square off against Carleton on Wednesday night.