The Gustavus women’s basketball team stepped up its defensive play in the second half of Saturday afternoon’s contest against Macalester for a 71-44 victory in St. Peter, Minn. The win gave the Gusties their eighth consecutive MIAC victory to improve to 9-1 in the conference and 11-2 overall, while the Scots fall to 5-8 overall and 3-7 in the MIAC. Saturday’s game marked the 1,000th in program history and with the win the Gustie women now boast an all-time record of 594-406.
Macalester’s only lead of the game was the first score on a layup by Kyanna Jones, but the Gusties took over the ensuing 13:43 to lead 27-15 with 5:47 left in the first half – their largest lead of the first 20 minutes. That’s when the Scots reversed the momentum, though, as they finished the half on a 14-to-3 run and trailed by only one (30-29) at the break.
“We set goals every game and one of our goals is to keep teams under fifty points,” head coach Mickey Haller said. “With twenty-nine points at halftime, that’s hard to do. Offensively, things didn’t really hit for us and they were hitting their three’s. I felt that we were contesting their three’s, but maybe not as well as we could have. That kept them in the game. So we went into halftime and talked about how we could change things offensively. And defensively, we had to continue to see where their shooters were and keep contesting them.”
Haller’s squad responded and came out in the second on fire with a quick 11-to-2 run in the first 3:42 to lead 41-31. For the next four minutes, the Scots kept pace and were still in the game at the 13:10 mark trailing by nine, but a pair of free throws by Steph Comer sparked the Gustie offense, as well as the defense, as the Black and Gold held Macalester to just seven points, while scoring 24, in the final 13 minutes of regulation.
The Gusties’ eight-game tear is the longest since the 2006-07 campaign when they won 10 in a row and went on to reach the NCAA Tournament.
“It is a climb,” Haller mentioned of her squad’s outlook toward the rest of the season leading up to playoffs. “There is no game in the conference that’s easy and today proved that. We’re still at the point where we’re continuing to get better every game. Certainly, we have our goals set to finish at the top, but at least maintain where we are at with this number two position. And when we meet up with that top team again, hopefully we take them down. We have set our goals high and this is a mature team, so I don’t see why we can’t reach them.”
Senior captain Molly Geske led the way once again with a game-high 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field. Abby Rothenbuehler also had a big day for the victors by matching a season-high 12 rebounds, while adding 13 points for a double-double. Julia Dysthe provided a spark off the bench with a season-high 13 points, including three bombs from behind the arc.
Maggie Wood paced the Scots with 12 points and Shannon Rene hauled in a team-high six boards.
Next up for the Gustie women is Concordia on Monday. Tip-off is slated for 5:45 p.m. in St. Peter with the men’s teams squaring off after the game in a 7:45 match-up.
“I said this at the beginning of the season,” Haller stated. “Saint Ben’s and Concordia graduated a lot of players but Jess (Concordia Head Coach Jessica Rahman) does a nice job with her squad. She’s got a lot of good, young talent and I have no doubt as the season matures that her team will get better and better. We’ve just got to be ready to use our experience and get after them a little bit. Hopefully we can stay strong.”