The adage you remember the beginning and the end of a game was especially true for the Gustavus women’s basketball team in a 79-66 playoff victory over Hamline on Monday night at Gus Young Court. The Gusties outscored the Pipers 35-10 in the first and last five minutes to earn the right to play St. Thomas in St. Paul on Wednesday night. Gustavus improved to 18-8, while Hamline’s season ended at 13-13.
Gustavus raced out to a 12-1 lead with 15:37 on the clock due in part to six points from Jess Vadnais. The Gusties maintained a 27-19 margin after Julia Schultz hit the front end of a 1-in-1. Hamline was not about to quit, however, as the Pipers went on a 12-0 run to gain a 31-27 lead. Nikki Klinck, Kristin Sczublewski, and Jackie Kelly hit three consecutive three-point shots to sway the momentum in Hamline’s favor before going into the locker room with a 31-29 lead. The Gusties shot 29 percent in the first half, but stayed in the contest as Hamline committed 14 turnovers.
Each squad started the second half exchanging baskets before Hamline built its lead to 44-38 after a pair of layups by Rochelle Sather and another three-point basket by Sczublewski. Bri Radtke hit an important three-pointer with 12:46 left to tie the score at 44-44 for the Gusties. Both offenses traded baskets over the next eight minutes as the Pipers held a 57-56 lead with 4:54 remaining on the clock. The Gustavus defense made a series of defensive stands led by the stellar effort of Emily Nelson as Gustie free throw shooting took over the game. Katie Layman, Nelson, and Vadnais put on a free throw show as the trio combined to shoot 19-for-20 from the charity stripe to fight off Hamline’s last offensive threat. Gustavus shot 52 percent from the floor in the half and forced the Pipers to commit 12 additional turnovers.
In addition to a game-high 27 points, Jess Vadnais compiled five steals to become Gustavus’ career steals leader with 215. Vadnais surpassed the 24-year old mark of 213 steals set by Betty Wannarka in 1984. Emily Nelson, Katie Layman, and Bri Radtke reached double-digit scoring with 15, 14, and 12 points, respectively. Hamline was paced by Rochelle Sather’s 22 points and Mary Wilkowski’s third double-double of the season with 11 points and 13 rebounds. The Pipers received a lift from Nikki Klinck off the bench as she chipped in 10 points in 31 minutes.
Gustavus will face #2-seed St. Thomas on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Schoenecker Arena in St. Paul. Both squads split the season series with the Gusties losing the first game 57-50 and winning the rematch 55-52.