St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus women’s basketball team suffered a heartbreaking 50-49 loss to Concordia College on Saturday afternoon at Gus Young Court.
Trailing 49-47 with 1:15 remaining, Concordia’s Erika Jossart knocked down a desperation 18-footer from the left wing as time expired on the shot clock to tie the game at 49-49. Julia Dysthe (Jr., White Bear Lake, Minn.) missed a three-pointer at the tail end of the shot clock on the ensuing possession, Concordia’s Emily Thesing grabbed the rebound with under ten seconds to play. With no intention of calling a timeout to set up a final play, Thesing brought down the rebound and took the ball coast-to-coast, getting into the lane and drawing a foul that put her at the line with a chance to win the game with :02 seconds remaining. The senior made the first free toss, allowing Concordia the one point win on the road.
With the loss, Gustavus drops to 11-4 overall and 10-2 in the MIAC. Concordia moves into second place in the league standings alongside Gustavus at 11-4 overall and 10-2 in the MIAC with the victory.
“We knew going into this game that it was going to be a battle. We are at the halfway point of league play and Concordia is a quality program that was gunning for the top,” said head coach Laurie Kelly. “We wanted to come out fast and that’s what we did. I’m really happy with our intensity out the gate. We got Rothenbuehler involved early and held them to 21 points in the first half, so it was a great start for us.”
After Kelsey Florian (Sr., Roseville, Minn.) tied the game at 2-2 on Gustavus’ first offensive possession, the Gusties went on an 11-2 scoring run to grab a 13-4 lead by the 13:34 mark of the first half.
The Gusties built a double-digit lead on a layup by Mia Sandstrom (Sr., Chanhassen, Minn.) giving them a 17-7 lead by the 9:34 mark of the frame. The Cobbers struggled from the field throughout the first half, hitting double-figures not until the 4:37 point on a bucket by Erin Januschka that cut the lead to 10 points (21-11). The Gusties scored the following four points to take their largest lead of the game up 14 (27-13) with 3:23 left in the half.
The Cobbers used a late charge in the final three minutes, outscoring the Gusties 8-2 to cut the lead to 29-21 at the break.
Abby Rothenbuehler (Sr., North Mankato, Minn.) led all scorers in the first half with nine points after going 4-of-6 from the field. Gustavus shot 36.7-percent from the field, while Concordia shot 32.1-percent and turned the ball over ten times.
The roles reversed in the second half, as Gustavus’ offense went dormant and its shooting percentage dropped. The Gusties shot just 28-percent in the second half, making just seven field goals and going 4-for-9 from the free throw line. The Black and Gold’s starting five players made just one field goal each in the final 20 minutes.
“We just couldn’t score in the second half. I thought we had good looks, yet just couldn’t knock down shots,” Kelly said. “Julia Dysthe, for example, has been one of our more consistent shooters and today just wasn’t her day from the floor. Although we couldn’t get any offensive rhythm going in the second half, we continued to battle on the defensive, force turnovers, and get stops.”
It was following a Florian free throw at the 12:37 mark at the Cobbers began to make their run. Trailing 36-29, they scored seven unanswered points to tie the game at 36-36 with 9:02 on the clock. A three-pointer by Emily Thesing a minute later gave Concordia its first lead (41-40) since the opening minute of the half.
The two squads went back-and-forth over the next seven minutes. The Cobbers would not relinquish the lead after the Thesing three until the 1:15 mark when, after Gustavus tied the game on two occasions over the previous five minutes, Florian buried a triple from the left wing with a Concordia defender in her face and the shot clock winding down.
Jossart’s scrambling basket occurred on the following possession and the rest is in the books.
“In the final stages, Kelsey Florian knocks down a huge three-pointer, we play great defense for :29 seconds of the shot clock on the other end and they knock down a desperation shot at the buzzer. It’s bad luck but that’s basketball,” commented Kelly on the final minute of the game.
For the first time this season, Gustavus was unsuccessful in holding a halftime lead. The Gusties finished 18-for-55 (32.7%) from the field, 5-for-15 (33.3%) from behind the arc, and 8-for-13 (61.5%) at the free throw line.
Rothenbuehler was shut down in the second half yet still managed to record her second straight double-double with 12 points (5-12) and 12 rebounds (10 defensive). Stephanie Comer (Sr., Minnetonka, Minn.) finished next in line with nine points, going 3-for-8 from three, and both Dysthe and Florian had eight points. Dysthe was 3-for-12 from the floor, and Florian was 2-for-9.
“We did a lot things really well today,” stated Kelly. “This afternoon, unlike our game against St. Thomas, we came ready to play. We never showed up to that game, but today we did. When push came to shove, we weren’t able to make the plays we needed to and they did. With the score tied, they got to the free throw line and knocked down the big shot so your hat goes off to the Cobbers for being able to do that.”
Concordia was led in scoring by Emily Thesing with 13 points (4-11), Alexandra Lippert with 12 points (6-9), and Alley Fisher with 11 points (4-8). Ten of Thesing’s points came in the second half after she hit 3-of-4 three-pointers.
Concordia was 20-of-56 from the field, 6-of-23 from three, and 4-of-8 at the charity stripe. The Cobbers had the slight edge in both the turnover battle with 14 compared to Gustavus’ 15, and rebounding by a 50-to-49 count.
Although the loss is a tough one for the Gusties to take, coach Kelly reminded her players that there are still 10 games left and that they still get at chance at everyone but Augsburg one more time. “We are going to have to win on the road just like we did to start the year. It starts with St. Olaf, a tough place to play, on Monday and we look forward to getting back on track.”
The Gustavus women’s basketball team will travel to Northfield, Minn. on Monday for a 7:30 p.m. game against the Oles. St. Olaf sits in seventh place in the MIAC with an overall record of 7-8 and an MIAC mark of 5-7.