Emily Nelson (Jr., Mankato, Minn.) scored a career-high 16 points as the Gustavus women’s basketball team picked up a key 55-52 conference win over St. Thomas on Saturday afternoon in St. Paul. Nelson scored 11of her 16 points in the second half as the Gusties kept pace with Concordia for third-place in the conference standings. Gustavus improved to 14-7 overall and 13-5 in the MIAC, while St. Thomas fell to 15-6 overall and 14-4 in league play.
The Gusties got off to a quick 13-4 lead six minutes into the contest after three-pointers by Jess Vadnais and Nelson. Gustavus maintained its nine-point lead until the Tommies went on a 10-2 run with six points from Carrie Embree to cut the margin to 23-22 with 3:20 on the clock. The Gusties hung on to a 26-25 lead going into halftime. Gustavus shot 31 percent from the field, but was aided by shooting 8-9 from the free-throw line and eight points from Katie Layman (So., Hudson, Wis.).
St. Thomas regained the lead early in the second half as the Tommies built a six-point 38-32 lead with 13:20 remaining. Andi Olson provided a big spark off of the bench as she hit a three-pointer and two jump shots during St. Thomas’ comeback. Nelson then triggered an ensuing 8-0 run with a three-point basket and a pair of layups to give Gustavus a 40-38 lead at 10:23. The Gusties built a five-point lead after Vadnais made a layup with 00:49 left in the contest. St. Thomas cut the deficit to two points after Jessica Katch hit a three-point shot at 00:33. Nelson hit a pair of free throws on the next possession for Gustavus to make it a two possession game. Katch hit a layup with 00:04 left to cut the lead back to two points, but the Tommies never regained possession after Vadnais hit a free throw to seal the win.
Katie Layman joined Nelson in double-figures with 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Gustavus shot 36 percent from the floor in the contest, but compensated with 14-17 shooting from the free throw line. Jessica Katch and Carrie Embree posted 15 points each as the Tommies were held to their lowest point total of the season despite shooting 42 percent from the field.
Gustavus will play a key MIAC contest on Monday night at Gus Young Court against Concordia with tip-off at 5:45 p.m. The game will be broadcast through the Gustavus athletics website. St. Thomas will travel to Minneapolis to face Augsburg on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.