The Gustavus women’s basketball team jumped out to a 3-2 lead to open Saturday afternoon’s game in St. Peter, Minn., but 20th-ranked St. Thomas responded with 12 unanswered points and never looked back en rout to a 72-52 Tommie victory. The loss ended a program record 12-game MIAC win streak for the Gusties, who fall to 15-3 overall and 13-2 in the conference, while the Tommies stay perfect in the league at 15-0 and 17-1 overall.
After the 12 unanswered by the Toms, Gustavus countered with a 10-to-2 run to cut the deficit to three (16-13) midway through the first half. The two teams battled back-and-forth until the final minute before the break where St. Thomas gained all the momentum.
With :44 left in the first, Abby Rothenbuehler fouled Sarah Smith on her way up for a shot, which dropped and Smith then completed the three-point play. Another Gustie foul gave Maggie Weiers two shots from the line that were converted as well. A free throw by Molly Geske cut the deficit to nine (35-26) with :05 to go, but Kelly Brandenburg went coast-to-coast for a jumper as time expired, giving the Tommies an 11-point lead (37-26) at the half.
Gustavus slowly gained the momentum back in its favor and cut the Tommie lead to four (51-47) with 6:46 remaining in regulation on a three-pointer by Julia Dysthe. But St. Thomas answered with a three in the ensuing possession by Kellie Ring, which sparked a 10-to-2 run over the next four minutes. The Gusties found themselves in foul trouble for the remainder of the game and the Tommies capitalized by making 11-of-12 shots from the charity stripe in the final two minutes.
“I think our players played frustrated,” head coach Mickey Haller noted. “We had a lot of good looking shots in both halves that just didn’t fall. We just could not finish on the offensive side after contact was made and that’s something we’ve struggled with. St. Thomas is a great team with a lot of energy and we didn’t match that today. We’ll move on, though, and I hope to see this team later in the season.”
The Gusties shot a season-low 30.5-percent (18-of-59) from the floor, including a dismal 26.7-percent (8-for-30) in the second half. They also made only 2-of-19 shots from beyond the arc. St. Thomas shot 47.1-percent (24-of-51) from the field, but won the game at the free throw line. The Tommies converted on 21-of-24 opportunities at the stripe.
Weiers finished with a game-high 21 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field for the Tommies. The sophomore center also grabbed eight boards and went 13-of-14 from the line. Taylor Young and Sarah Smith also finished the game in double figures for the Toms with 17 and 13 points, respectively.
Eli Benz tied a season-high 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting and 6-of-6 from the stripe to lead the Gusties. Colleen Ruane was the only other Gustie in double-digits with 11 points. She also came away with a game-high four steals and continues to lead the league in steals with 54.
The Gustie women return to Gus Young Court Monday for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off against Augsburg.