St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus women’s basketball team took care of business on its home court with a 66-48 victory over Augsburg College on Wednesday night. The Gusties benefited from a fast start that saw them up 19-4 in the opening ten minutes, and a stifling defensive effort that held Augsburg to just 26-percent shooting from the field. Senior Abby Rothenbuehler (North Mankato, Minn.) led the way with a double-double after scoring 16 points and bringing down 10 rebounds.
Gustavus remains in first place in the league standings with the win and is now 11-3 overall and 10-1 in the MIAC. Augsburg moves to 5-9 overall and 3-8 in the MIAC with the loss.
“We set the tone early with a strong defensive effort and that led to a lot of good looks on the offensive end,” said head coach Laurie Kelly. “After getting out to an early lead, we sort of went into neutral, but despite the lull during a stretch in the half, I thought we finished very well.”
Gustavus’ defense was so stingy in the first half that it took Augsburg until the 9:36 mark to knock down its first field goal, a three-pointer by Katie Ahlstrom that cut the lead to 19-7. The Gusties jumped out to a 15-1 lead by the 14:12 mark leading up to that point.
Facing a 21-7 deficit, Augsburg whittled the lead to six points (22-16) by the 4:45 mark on a layup by Jessica Lilllquist. From that point, it was all Gustavus for the remainder of the half. The Gustie defense kicked back into gear and didn’t allow the Auggies another point after Lillquist’s bucket. A three-pointer by Julia Dysthe (Jr., White Bear Lake, Minn.) sparked an 11-0 Gustavus run that put the Black and Gold up 33-16 at the break.
Rothenbuehler went to work on the blocks in the opening half, going 4-for-5 from the field to lead the way with 11 points. Gustavus shot 44.8-percent from the field, while Augsburg shot 23.5-percent.
The Gusties continued to surge in the opening minutes of the second half, going up 43-18 by the 16:43 mark after a 10-2 run out of the gate. Gustavus would lead by as many as 29 points in the opening 10 minutes, as a Dysthe layup at 11:33 extended the lead to 52-23.
The lead would linger around the 20-point range before Augsburg was able to cut the deficit to 14 (62-48) with 1:26 on the clock. Gustavus finished strong with the last four points of the game, bringing Gustavus’ final margin to 18 points.
Rothenbuehler completed the double-double with seven rebounds in the second half. She finished 6-for-9 from the floor, 1-for-2 from three-point range, and 3-for-5 at the free throw line.
“A great all-around game for Abby to get back on track tonight,” said Kelly about her senior post. “We wanted to get her involved early and were very conscious about getting her the ball. She and Karina are really starting to work well together on the blocks and we are seeing them begin to gel with their interior passing and movement. A lot of teams don’t match well with our two bigs, and with the versatility of Rothenbuehler, that task becomes even more challenging. “
A total of ten Gustavus players hit the scoresheet with at least a point this evening. Julia Dysthe finished behind Rothenbuehler with nine points on 4-of-10 shooting, while both Kelsey Florian (Sr., Roseville, Minn.) and Karina Schroeder (Fy., Lake Crystal, Minn.) scored eight. Florian was 4-for-8 from the field, and Schroeder was 2-for-4 with four free throws.
“It was great to get everybody in and get all the players some playing time,” commented Coach Kelly. “Although we have a lot to clean up, tonight served as a great opportunity to gain valuable experience. These younger players are the future of our program and this is how they are going to grow and become better. With a good lead, you are able to give them that experience while also walking away with a win.”
As a team, Gustavus shot 50-percent (24-28) from the field, 50-percent (4-8) from three-point range, and 63.6-percent (14-22) from the free throw line. The Gusties outrebounded the Auggies 40-28, yet lost the turnover battle 21-17.
Augsburg was led in scoring by Katie Ahlstrom who missed just one shot the whole night, a free throw in the second half. She scored 11 points after going 4-for-4 from the field and 2-for-2 from three.
The Auggies shot 26-percent (13-50) from the floor, 19-percent (4-21) from three, and 66.7-percent (18-27) at the line.
“Our regular season ends a month from now,” Kelly concluded. “We are halfway through our conference season and every game from here on out is a big game. It’s going to be a battle, but we are looking forward to the challenge. We’ve played well at home and we’ll look to continue to do that on Saturday against a Concordia team that is looking to get back in the run for the top spot in the league.”