St. Peter, Minn. – Junior guard Julia Dysthe (White Bear Lake, Minn.) scored a career-high 21 points to lead the Gustavus women’s basketball team to a 67-59 victory over St. Catherine University on Saturday afternoon at Gus Young Court.
“I thought we would come out of the gate with a little more energy, but we struggled to make shots early and that took the wind out of us,” said head coach Laurie Kelly. “You have to give St. Kate’s a lot of credit – they made shots when they needed to. With only seven of their kids seeing the court, they battled from start to finish.”
With a 33-32 lead after a sleepy first half, Gustavus turned up the intensity halfway through the second, going on a 16-2 run in a four-minute stretch to open up an 18-point lead (65-47) with less than five minutes to play. The run turned out to be the difference, as St. Kate’s could not recover in the remaining time.
With the win, Gustavus secures a spot in the 2013 MIAC Playoffs. The Gusties improve to 14-9 overall and 13-7 in the MIAC, while St. Catherine drops to 2-21 overall and 1-19 in the MIAC.
With an 11-10 edge at the 13:39 mark of the first half, Gustavus used a 10-3 scoring run to open up a 21-13 lead with 9:31 left in the half. Like they did throughout the half, the Wildcats responded, going on a 13-2 run that put them up 26-23 with 6:19 on the clock.
Following the run by St. Kate’s, there would be five lead changes over the final five minutes of the half. A jumper by Julia Dysthe proved to be the final lead change of the half, putting Gustavus on top 33-32 heading into the break.
The Wildcats outshot the Gusties 44.4 to 43.8-percent in the opening half. Dysthe led the way with 11 first half points on 5-of-8 shooting, while Mary Neumann of St. Kates’ scored 12 after going 5-for-10 from the field and 2-for-3 from three-point range.
After Neumann scored the first two points of the second half to put St. Catherine up 34-33, an Abby Rothenbuehler (Sr., North Mankato, Minn.) three-pointer sparked a 12-0 scoring-spree that put the Gusties on top 45-34 with 14:50 left to play.
St. Kate’s chipped away at the lead over the next five minutes, cutting it down to four points (49-45) with 10:10 on the clock. The four point deficit would be as close as the Wildcats would come, as Gustavus took its largest lead of the game at 18 points (65-47) with 5:52 remaining following a 16-2 run. Eight of the points inside the run were scored by Julia Dysthe, and six of those eight points were the end result of her own steal.
Dysthe added 10 more points in the second half, bringing her a to a game-high total of 21. The junior went 10-for-17 from the field and recorded a game-high six steals.
“Dysthe brought a lot of energy to the court today,” said Kelly. “She anticipates well at the top of our zone and had six steals because of it. Julia is another one of our players who has to score for us to be successful. Today, we saw her ability to do so in a variety of different ways.”
After a 45.2-percent shooting second half, Gustavus finished 28-for-63 (44.4%) from the field, 2-for-9 from three (22.2%), and 9-for-11 (81.8%) at the line.
Along with Dysthe in double-figures, Karina Schroeder (Fy., Lake Crystal, Minn.) finished with 14 points after going 5-for-9 from the floor and 4-for-6 at the stripe. Rothenbuehler had a near double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds, while Kesley Florian (Sr., Roseville, Minn.) rounded out Gustavus’ top scorers with 11 as well.
Mary Neumann led St. Catherine with 22 points after going 9-for-15 from the floor and 4-for-6 from three. As a team, St. Kate’s went 21-for-56 (37.5%) from the field, 8-for-26 (30.8%) from three, and 9-for-9 (100%) at the line.
“Our focus this week was just to secure a playoff spot,” Kelly said. “At this point, you are basically waiting to see where the chips fall – it’s almost like a new season already. We have two tough games to finish out the regular season against Carleton and Concordia, and a lot can still happen in terms of positioning in the league.”
The Gustavus women’s basketball team will play on Gus Young Court for the final time in the regular season on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m.
“We just need to play better basketball. The goal is to head into the post-season playing your best and right now we are not doing that. The importance of this week becomes that much greater because of that,” concluded Kelly. “This week is going to be a good simulation of what the playoffs will be like, so hopefully we can build some momentum through these last couple games.”