The Gustavus women’s basketball team escaped with a 66-63 victory over Saint Benedict Monday night in St. Peter, Minn. The Blazers outscored the Gusties 40-25 in the second half, but it was not enough to overcome an 18-point first half deficit as the Gusties claimed the important conference victory. The win leaves Gustavus in sole possession of first place in the MIAC at 10-1. Bri Radtke led all scorers with 18 points.
Gustavus started the first half red-hot has they jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Molly Geske was a key contributor as she drained her first four shots from the field. The Gusties continued to build their lead and led by 20 points (37-17) at the 2:52 mark in the first half. Gustavus made 18-of-39 (46.2%) of its field goals in the first 20 minutes led 41-23 at the break.
Just as the Gusties got of to a fast start in the first half, the Blazers came out firing in the second half. A 23-9 run in the first ten minutes of play cut the Gusties’ 18-point halftime lead to four points at 50-46 at the 9:16 mark. Bri Radtke sparked the Gusties with two important three-point baskets within a minute of each other giving Gustavus a 58-51 lead with 4:07 on the clock.
Saint Benedict slowly picked away at the lead in the final four minutes finally cutting the lead to one point on a long three-point basket by Mindy Schmidt with :05 remaining. Molly Geske was fouled immediately on the inbounds play and she made both free throws allowing the Gusties to hold on for the three-point (66-63) victory. The win snapped a three-game losing streak to the Blazers dating back to February of 2008.
The Gusties 10-1 record in the first half of league play ties the best start in MIAC play in the program’s history. Coach Mickey Haller’s squad also started the 2002-03 season with a 10-1 conference mark and went on to finish at 20-2 to tie for the MIAC Title with Carleton and St. Ben’s.
Gustavus begins the second half of MIAC play on Wednesday night at Carleton. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The Gusties defeated the Knights 77-61 in St. Peter on December 2.