Trailing by six points with :17 left in regulation, it didn’t look promising for the Gustavus women’s basketball team Wednesday night in St. Paul. But a three-pointer by Abby Rothenbuehler with :13 left and a missed free throw by Hamline gave the Gusties one last opportunity to keep the game alive. And Steph Comer answered the call with a 30-foot buzzer-beater sending the game into overtime. The Gusties then outscored the Pipers 9-8 in the extra frame for a nail-biting 83-82 victory.
“Steph threw it up from just past the half court line and nailed it,” head coach Mickey Haller recalled of the buzzer-beater. “She had a huge night for us and kept us in the game by hitting three-pointer after three-pointer. It was a very exciting game and we couldn’t be happier to get out of there with a win.”
The thrilling overtime victory will go down in the history books as the Gusties broke the program record for three-point field goals made with 15. The previous mark was 12 set on Jan. 15, 2007 against St. Olaf. The Gusties also extended their win streak to ten, tying the program record for most consecutive wins in the MIAC. Gustavus improves to 11-1 in the conference and 13-2 overall, while the Pipers fall to 4-11 on the year and 3-9 in league play.
Scoring went back-and-forth between the two teams throughout the first five minutes, but Hamline used a 6-to-1 run from the 15:16 mark to the 10:24 mark to gain its largest lead of the half (eight) at 19-11. Gustavus turned the momentum in its favor, though, with a 14-to-4 run and led by two (25-23) with three minutes left in the half. But that was all the scoring the Gusties could muster out in the first 20 minutes as the Pipers tallied ten unanswered points and went into the locker room with a 33-25 lead.
Hamline kept the momentum rolling to start the second by jumping out to its largest lead of the game at 40-27 in the first three minutes of the half. The Gusties cut the deficit to six at the 11:28 mark on a jumper by Rothenbuehler, but right back at it were the Pipers as they pushed their lead back to double-digits 60-49 with 7:41 to go. Over the next three minutes, though, it was all black and gold as the Gusties went on a 14-to-2 run to lead 63-62 with 4:51 left.
“Our bench came on for us in the biggest way,” Haller acknowledged. “They brought in a lot of energy to the game in the last few minutes of the second, which gave the whole team confidence.”
Hamline jumped back out to a seven-point lead with :32 remaining, but a trey by Julia Dysthe cut the deficit to four. With :17 to go, Je’Naya Brown sunk two free throws for the Pipers only to set up the improbable comeback by the Gusties.
After Comer’s game-tying heave sent the game into overtime, the Pipers jumped out to a six-point lead at the 3:23 mark of the extra five minutes. Gustavus scored seven unanswered points, though, to regain the lead at 81-80 with 1:46 left. Two free throws by Jordan Sammons put the home team back out in front, but a jumper by Rothenbuehler with :23 remaining proved to be the game-winner as the Gusties held on for the 83-82 victory.
The win also broke a three-game losing streak at Hutton Arena, giving the Gustie seniors their first win on the home court of the Pipers.
“The seniors wanted to win there so bad,” Haller mentioned. “The first half was pretty lackluster. Hamline was doing what it wanted to do and we were missing open shots, which didn’t help the cause, but we stayed relaxed and loose and got the job done.”
Gustavus posted five players with double-digit scoring. Ava Perry tallied a team- and season-high 16 points, including four three-pointers. Comer, Molly Geske and Rothenbuehler each recorded 15 points; all of Comer’s career-high 15 points came from behind the arc and Rothenbuehler notched her third double-double of the season with a game-high 12 boards. Dysthe was the fifth Gustie in double figures with 11 points.
The Gusties shot 32-of-77 (41.6-percent) from the floor, marking the most attempts since Jan. 31, 2004 when they shot 80 times against St. Kate’s. Hamline shot 51.9-percent from the field (28-of-54).
The Gustie women will look to extend their win streak to 11 Saturday at Bethel University. Game time is set for 1:00 p.m. in Arden Hills, Minn.