Winona, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus women’s basketball team could not keep a surging Saint Mary’s team at bay in the second half, as the Gusties fell by the score of 65-58 to the Cardinals on Wednesday night at the SMU Gym. Gustavus has now dropped two straight and four of its last five. Although Gustavus cut the lead to two points (58-56) with 1:19 to play, Saint Mary’s outscored the Gusties 7-2 over the remaining time, going 7-for-8 at the free throw line down the stretch to secure the win.
“These are tough losses that we have to learn from,” said head coach Laurie Kelly. “We need to find a way to win these games down the stretch. A credit to Saint Mary’s and its seniors – their kids, Thone and Stefely especially, stepped up and made plays when they needed to.”
Gustavus drops to fifth place in the league standings with the loss, moving to 12-7 overall and 11-5 in the MIAC. Saint Mary’s keeps a firm grip on a second place league standing with the win, improving to 15-4 overall and 13-3 in the MIAC.
The two squads traded punches for the entire opening half. Saint Mary’s would lead just once however, going up 8-6 at the 15:11 mark on a layup by Brittany Begrowicz. Gustavus answered with four straight points for the last lead change of the half, taking a 10-8 lead on a Julia Dysthe (Jr., White Bear Lake, Minn.) layup with 14:09 on the clock.
The Cardinals tied the game on three occasions following Dysthe’s layup in the 15th minute. With the score tied 27-27, Kelsey Florian (Sr., Roseville, Minn.) put Gustavus on top 29-27 with a bucket with :14 seconds on the clock, sending the game into halftime.
Dysthe led the way with 13 first half points, going 6-for-8 from the field and knocking down a three-pointer. Gustavus shot 46.7-percent from the floor in the first half, while Saint Mary’s shot 32.3-percent.
Saint Mary’s came out hot to start of the second half, outscoring the Gusties 9-2 in the opening four minutes to go up 36-31 by the 16:20 mark.
Gustavus tied the game at 41-41 (13:59) and 44-44 (12:32) before the Saint Mary’s scoring run that turned the tide. A three-pointer by SMU’s Darcey Rice at 11:56 sparked an 8-0 run that saw the Cardinals on top 52-44 with 10:45 to play.
“Their 8-0 run in the second half was a key stretch in the game. That took a lot out of us and although we were able to come back and cut the lead to two, they knocked down key free throws to seal the win,” said Kelly.
Although the Gusties clawed their way back into the game, it took over nine minutes to do so. A layup by Dsythe with 1:19 on the clock capped off an 8-2 run that cut the lead to 58-56. Saint Mary’s answered with a four straight free throws to go up six (62-56) with :40 seconds to play. Gustavus could not make up the difference in the remaining seconds, as Saint Mary’s would hold on for its eight consecutive win.
Gustavus outshot the Cardinals 43.3-to-38.5 percent in the second half. Saint Mary’s cashed in on its free throw chances in the frame, going 14-for-17.
Julia Dysthe and Kelsey Florian scored 41 of Gustavus’ 58 points on the evening. Dysthe finished with a career-high 23 points on 11-of-17 shooting, while Florian also turned a career-best point total with 18 after going 8-for-16 from the floor.
“Julia and Kelsey were big for us tonight,” commented Kelly, “but we struggled with bench production and overall scoring balance. Right now we just cant’ get the three or four people we need contributing on the same night.”
As a team, Gustavus shot 45-percent (27-60) from the field, 22.2-percent (2-9) from three, and 33.3-percent (2-6) at the line. The Gusties held the rebounding advantage 39-36, yet lost the turnover battle 20-15.
Saint Mary’s was led by Jessica Thone and Jamie Stefely who scored 15 and 11 points, respectively. Thone went 4-for-11 from the field, and Stefely went 3-for-8. The pair combined to go 11-for-13 from the free throw line in the game.
Saint Mary’s shot 35.1-percent (20-57) from the field, 38.5-percent (5-13) from three, and 83.3-percent (20-24) at the stripe.
“The story of the game was free throws. They went 20-for-24 at the line and we made just two all night – that was the difference,” Kelly stated.
The Gustavus women’s basketball team will look to get back on track Saturday when it travels to St. Paul to face Hamline at 1:00 p.m.
“We are a good basketball team that needs to start believing in itself again. When things are going great, it’s great, but when things are going bad, it’s not great. Finishing is going to be key for us as we move on. We are doing enough to give us a chance at the end, but we just haven’t found that extra something to put us over the top,” Kelly concluded.