Saint Benedict used its best shooting performance of the season to roll past the Gustavus women’s basketball team 79-62 on Wednesday night in St. Peter, Minn. The Blazers shot 55.6-percent (30-54) from the field, going 10-for-22 from three point range and 9-for-10 from the free throw line on the way to their eighth MIAC victory of the season.
Gustavus falls to 5-7 overall and 4-5 in the MIAC with the loss, while Saint Ben’s improves to 11-1 overall and 8-1 in the MIAC.
The Gusties were led in scoring by Molly Mathiowetz and Eli Benz. Mathiowetz had 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, and Benz had 12 points going 5-for-8.
Saint Benedict’s Amy Stifter was the story of the night. She led all scorers with a game-high 22 points, shooting a red-hot 8-for-11 from the field, 4-for-6 from three point range, and 2-for-2 at the line.
“Saint Ben’s is a good team and they came ready to play. They shot the lights out and Coach Durbin had them ready to go,” said Head Coach Mickey Haller. “No question they had a great game-plan coming into tonight.”
The Gusties got out to a 5-3 lead in the early minutes, yet saw the advantage slip away quickly when the Blazers used a 10-0 run to take a 13-5 by the 15:37 mark. Saint Benedict made seven straight field goals within a four-minute frame to take a 19-9 lead with just under 14 minutes remaining. The Blazers would lead by as many as 14 points (34-20) in the half. Gustavus finished the period strong by using a 6-0 run down 11 points to cut the lead to 36-31 at the break.
Saint Benedict was 16-for-28 in the first period with Stifter and Morgan Dale leading the way with eight points each. Dale would finish the game in double figures with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Gustavus went 11-for-29 from the field, as Mathiowetz scored a team-high eight points.
“Going into the half I felt pretty good about where we were. That is exactly how this team knows it can play,” said Haller.
The Blazers stifled the Gustavus momentum in the first five minutes of the second half by outscoring the Gusties 19-to-6 (55-37). Saint Ben’s was 7-for-10 within the time-span, while Gustavus was 3-for-10. The Gusties would cut the lead to 60-49 by the 8:22 point, yet Saint Ben’s responded with an 11-2 run to shut the door on a comeback.
“We paired up five players in the second half that really seemed to get our energy back. Although Saint Ben’s shot outstanding tonight, it was still a good sign to see those five re-energize our team,” commented Haller.
Saint Ben’s would hold on to the comfortable double-digit lead or the remainder of the game. Gustavus was 10-for-29 from the field and 0-for-7 from three point range in the second half. The Blazers were 14-for-26 from the floor, 6-for-12 from behind the arc, and 9-for-10 from the charity stripe.
Gustavus shot 36.2 percent (21-58) from the field, 13.3-percent (2-15) from the three, and 69.2-percent (18-26) at the line in the game. Aside from the shooting percentages and assists (20-6), it was an evenly matched game throughout. Saint Ben’s out-rebounded the Gusties 33-to-31, yet Gustavus won turnover battle 16-to-18.
“We know our identity. Now we just need to go out and make it happen,” said Haller. “Like you saw tonight, it doesn’t matter what five are on the court, they are going to get the full support from the ten on the bench and coaching staff to go out there and make plays.”
The Gustavus women’s basketball team will attempt to rebound at home against Carleton on Saturday, January 15. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m. on Gus Young Court.