Mankato, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus women’s basketball team could not keep up with the white-hot shooting performance of Minnesota State University, Mankato on Monday night at the Taylor Center, falling 93-56 in its final non-conference test before entering MIAC play on Wednesday. The Mavericks knocked down a total of 17 three-pointers and shot 60.3-percent from the field in their home-opener. Gustavus is now 1-2 overall, while MSU, Mankato improves to 3-0.
“You can’t give up 93 points and expect to win. We looked fatigued at times, this being our third game in four days, but the girls battled and I’m proud of their effort,” said Head Coach Laurie Kelly. “We can hopefully walk out of this locker room having learned something from the experience of playing such a talented team like MSU.”
After what was a slow start for both teams, MSU used a 10-0 run to go up 19-5 with 12:12 left in the opening half. After Abby Rothenbuehler (North Mankato, Minn.) ended Gustavus’ dry spell with a jumper from the free throw line at the 11:56 mark, the Mavericks continued to pour on the pressure by going up 26-8 following a Hillary Paulson three-pointer with 8:58 left in the half.
After MSU’s Lexi Ulfers extended the lead to 19 points (38-19) with 3:40 displayed on the clock, Gustavus began to chip away at the deficit. A 9-0 Gustavus run was capped off by a Britta Rinke (Waconia, Minn.) three-pointer at the buzzer to cut the lead to 38-28 heading into the break.
Rinke led Gustavus in scoring in the opening half with nine points off the bench. She went 3-for-3 from the field. Despite shooting 47.4-percent from the field, Gustavus had no answer for MSU’s 58.3-percent field goal and 60-percent three-point field goal shooting percentages.
“There were moments of the game where we played head-to-head with them,” said Kelly. “If we knock down a few more free throws in the first half, we go into the break down single digits and feel a lot better about where we are. About half of their points came on three pointers and a lot of those were due to errors on our part. You hope by continuing to get a hand in their face that eventually they will cool off, but a credit to MSU, they just kept knocking down shots.”
The Mavericks picked up where they left off in the second half, scoring on four of their first five possessions to grab a 48-28 lead with 18:16 remaining.
A Rachelle Blaschko (Henderson, Minn.) layup at the 14:29 mark would be as close as Gustavus would get, trailing 14 points at 54-40.
Following a 12-4 run, MSU was up 66-44 and it was all Mavericks from that point on. Minnesota State hit 8-of-11 three pointers in the second half while shooting 61.8-percent from the field. Gustavus failed to hit a three-pointer in the second half, yet shot 52.2-percent from the floor.
Leading the Gusties in scoring in the game was Julia Dysthe (White Bear Lake, Minn.) with 14 points and Rinke with 13 points. Dysthe finished 5-for-11 from the field, while Rinke went 5-for-7. As a team, Gustavus shot 50-percent (21-42) from the field, 22.2-percent (2-9) from three-point range, and 75-percent (12-16) from the free throw line.
The Mavericks finished with four players in double figures including Jamie Bresnahan and Ali Wilkinson who both scored 15 points, Alli Hoefer who added 14, and Hillary Paulson who scored 11. The final stats showed MSU shooting 60.3-percent (35-58) from the field, 65.4-percent (17-26) from three, and 66.7-percent (6-9) at the line.
Gustavus lost the turnover battle 30-to-25 and were outrebounded 31-to-17.
“We can’t give the ball away 30 times,” commented Kelly. “They are such a big, strong, and physical team and they play such great denial defense. We knew that MSU would pressure us hard, and it’s hard to replicate that athleticism in practice. Our starting lineup and returners didn’t handle that well at times, but I thought we got better as the game went on.”
The Gustavus women’s basketball team will head into the start of its MIAC season with a road test against Augsburg on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. in Minneapolis. Coach Kelly expects her squad to be ready for the start conference play following such a grueling early-season non-league schedule.
“We head into MIAC play with a clean slate on Wednesday. Augsburg is a team that is going try to play in the gaps and play aggressive on defense. If anything, tonight’s game was a great tune-up for Wednesday night,” concluded Kelly.