St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus women’s basketball team is set to return to the hardwood and open its 2012-13 campaign with a pair of non-conference matchups against Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) opponents this weekend in Storm Lake, Iowa. The Gusties will first take on Simpson College on Friday, Nov. 23 at 5:30 p.m. They will then conclude the weekend against Buena Vista University at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 24. Buena Vista will serve as host for this weekend’s games with all contests being played in Siebens Fieldhouse.
A new era of Gustavus women’s basketball begins this season under the direction of first year head coach Laurie Kelly. Kelly, a Rochester, Minn. native and 1993 graduate of the University of St. Thomas, will make her coaching debut in the MIAC after serving the past nine seasons as the head coach Division I Northern Arizona University.
Coach Kelly returns a total of 11 letterwinners to the court from a 2011-12 team that finished second in the MIAC with a record of 20-7 overall and 17-5 in the MIAC. Last year’s squad defeated Concordia 61-49 in the MIAC semifinals before seeing its season come to an end after suffering a 66-54 loss to St. Thomas in the MIAC Playoff Championship.
The Gusties will need to find a way to replace the team’s key ball-handler Colleen Ruane and leading scorer Molly Geske who both graduated last season. A two-time member of the MIAC All-Defensive team, Ruane earned All-Conference marks for the first time last season and broke the school record for steals in a career. Geske capped her career with a third straight All-Conference accolade, leading the team in scoring the previous three seasons. She finished her tenure with 1,410 points, ranking third in Gustavus history.
An All-MIAC Honorable Mention performer last season, Rothenbuehler is the club’s leading scorer and top rebounder from a year ago. She averaged 10 points per game and shot .465 from the field (7th/MIAC). Rothenbuehler’s rebounding average of 7.8 boards per game was the best in the MIAC, while she also recorded a team-best 25 blocked shots.
Kelsey Florian was the first off the bench for the Gusties and was named the MIAC’s Sixth Player-of-the-Year following the 2011-12 season. She finished third on the team in both scoring and rebounding, averaging 8.5 points per game and bringing down 3.6 rebounds per game.
Julia Dysthe (Jr., White Bear Lake, Minn.) and Stephanie Comer (Sr., Minnetonka, Minn.) will see elevated roles in the backcourt because of the graduation of Geske, Ruane, and Ava Perry. Dysthe averaged 4.5 points per game, and Comer averaged 2.8.