St. Thomas guard Jordyn Sears hit two free throws with 09 seconds left to give the Tommies a 63-60 lead and senior guard Bri Radtke’s three-point shot at the buzzer bounced off the rim knocking the regular season champion Gusties out of the MIAC Playoffs and putting their NCAA Tournament hopes in jeopardy. The Gusties and Tommies battled for 40 minutes at a level that was befitting a post-season tournament contest with everything at stake. In the end, St. Thomas was able to make the clutch shots in the final moments and Gustavus was not. With the loss, the Gusties fall to 20-6, while St. Thomas improves to 20-7. St. Thomas will now travel to St. Joseph to face St. Ben’s in the MIAC Playoff Championship game on Saturday at 3:00 pm, while the Gusties will have to sit and wait to see if they receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA will announce the 64-team tournament field on Monday morning at NCAA.com.
The game was close for 40 minutes with neither team holding a lead bigger than five points. The game was tied 13 times, while the lead changed hands 10 times. With the score tied 54-54 late in the game, St. Thomas’s Sarah Smith made a lay-up to give the Tommies a 56-54 lead that they would not relinquish. Two free throws by Jazmin Townsed extended the St. Thomas lead to five points at 61-56 with 49 seconds left on the clock. The Gusties rallied to score four straight and a layup by Molly Mathiowetz with 13 seconds left cut the Tommie lead to one at 61-60. Gustavus fouled St. Thomas guard Jordyn Sears on the inbounds pass and the sophomore, who shot 57.1 percent from the line during the season, calmly stepped to the line and made two free throws to give the Tommies a three-point lead at 63-60. The Gusties quickly pushed the ball up the floor and called a timeout with 4.9 seconds left to play. On the inbounds play, Bri Radtke found Molly Geske open and then Geske immediately returned the ball to Radtke who stepped inbounds and was unguarded, but Radtke’s shot just before the final buzzer sounded bounced off the rim allowing the Tommies to advance to the MIAC Playoff Championship against St. Ben’s in St. Joseph on Saturday. The Blazers advanced to the final with a 69-61 overtime win against St. Catherine.
The Tommies outscored the Gusties 34-27 in the second half and the difference was shooting as St. Thomas made 12-of-22 from the field (54.5 percent) and 9-of-11 from the free throw line (81.8 percent), while the Gusties were 10-of-32 from the field (31.3 percent) and 5-of-6 from the free throw line (83.3 percent).
St. Thomas was led by Rachel Booth who scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Jazmin Townsend contributed 14 points and Jordyn Sears added 11 points.
Gustavus was led by Molly Geske with 20 points (15 of which came in the first half). The only other player in double figures for Gustavus was Coleen Ruane with 11 points.