St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus women’s basketball team took care of business early on Saturday afternoon against Hamline University, jumping out to a 45-26 halftime lead and cruising to an 87-57 victory. The Gusties earned their seventh straight victory with the win and are now 8-2 overall and 7-0 in the MIAC. Hamline sees its three-game conference winning-streak come to an end, falling to 3-7 overall and 3-4 in the MIAC with the loss.
“Hamline is a team that wants to get into games where a lot of points are scored and they have done well so far this season in those types of games,” said Head Coach Laurie Kelly. “Our goal coming into today was to keep them under 60 points. We did that by controlling the glass, playing sound defensively, working to get good looks, and dictating the tempo. We’ll have to fix that and fix a few things defensively and clean up the turnovers, but all in all, I’m very pleased with the win.”
For the second straight outing, Gustavus finished with five players in double-figures. After scoring just 12 total points over the past five games, Britta Rinke (Jr., Waconia, Minn.) broke out with a team-high 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Rinke led a Gustavus bench that outscored Hamline’s 42-9 in the contest.
Karina Schroeder (Fy., Lake Crystal, Minn.) exploited Hamline’s matchup zone with layups throughout the afternoon, scoring 16 points after going 7-for-12 from the field. Abby Rothenbuehler (Sr., North Mankato, Minn.) and Kelsey Florian (Sr., Roseville, Minn.) both filled out the scoresheet with near double-doubles. Rothenbuehler scored 13 points (4-8) and brought down nine rebounds, while Florian added 13 points (4-10) and dished out a season/team eight assists. Mia Sandstrom (Sr., Chanhassen, Minn.) rounded out the top scorers with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting.
“To have five players score in double-figures for the second straight game shows how balanced this team is offensively,” commented Kelly. “They weren’t the same five people today either. Where Steph Comer and Julia Dysthe didn’t stand out like they did on Wednesday, Mia Sandstrom and Britta Rinke stepped up into that role today. You are never going to have a great game every time out, so to have players pick each other up like we had today gives us a lot of confidence looking forward.”
After Hamline was able to cut what was once an 11-point deficit to seven (26-19) with 6:46 left in the half, Gustavus’ defense began to bear down and the offense began to pick up. The Gusties finished the half on a 19-7 scoring run that saw them head to the locker room on top 45-26.
The Gusties would hold on to a comfortable lead of more than 20 points for the remainder of the game. A layup by Rothenbuehler at the 6:18 mark of the second half gave Gustavus its largest lead of the game at 75-45.
Gustavus’ red hot shooting continued today as the team shot over 50-percent from the field for the second consecutive game. Gustavus shot 50.8-percent (32-63) from the floor, 33.3-percent (5-15) from three point range, and turned in another stellar shooting performance at the free throw line by going a season-best 18-for-19 (94.7%). Gustavus also won the battle of the glass, bringing down a season-best 52 boards compared to Hamline’s 26.
Coach Kelly credits execution and offensive discipline for the team’s consistent shooting performances at home. “We were patient on offense and didn’t settle for the jump shot,” she remarked. “We did exactly what we needed to do and we executed the game plan to near perfection. Hamline is a scary team that can cause you fits if you’re not sharp, but we were able to settle into our offense and take what was given.”
The Pipers were led in scoring by Steph Pilgrim who scored 24 points after going 6-for-29 from the field, 3-for-15 from three, and 9-for-10 at the line. As a team, Hamline shot 30.3-percent (20-66) from the floor, 24-percent (6-25) from three, and 91.7-percent (11-12) at the free throw line.
The Gustavus women’s basketball team will now need to refocus and set its eyes on the first three game week of January. The Gusties will travel to Macalester on Monday, Jan. 7, host St. Thomas on Wedensday, Jan. 9, and then travel to St. Paul to finish the week off against St. Catherine on Saturday, Jan. 12.
At 7-0 in the MIAC, the Gusties are off to their best start since the 2003-04 season. “We go to Macalester on Monday and believe me, the returners have not forgotten about their loss to MAC last year. Ellen Thompson is one the finest coaches in the league and she’ll have her team ready,” stated Kelly.
Monday night’s Gustavus versus Macalester game will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Leonard Center.
“If we continue to improve and play our type of game, I like our chances against anyone. Tonight is film, tomorrow is game-plan, and Monday we begin what will be a very big week for this team.”