St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus women’s basketball team used a fast start to run away with a 77-56 victory over UW-River Falls in its season-opener on Wednesday night at Gus Young Court. Scoring 24 points off of 20 UW-River Falls turnovers in the first half, Gustavus grabbed a 38-25 halftime lead and didn’t look back. Amongst three of her teammates who also finished in double-figures, Julia Dysthe (Sr., White Bear Lake, Minn.) led the way in scoring with a game-high 18 points.
Gustavus will head into Saturday’s non-conference road test at UM-Morris with a 1-0 record, while UW-River Falls drops to 0-3 on the year.
“To start out with a win is great,” said Head Coach Laurie Kelly following the game. “This is a team that still does not have a lot of experience, and we had a lot of nervous energy before the game. I thought we would struggle early because of those jitters, but the kids found a way to battle through and we looked good in the opening portion of the game.”
Gustavus jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, then pushed the margin to 22-5 following a 14-3 scoring-run. The Gusties led by as many as 21 points after Morgan Iverson (Fy., Waconia, Minn.) knocked down a jumper at the 6:43 mark.
“Our defense triggered our offense and we had a lot of energy as the game got underway,” said Kelly about her team’s fast start. “The downside of the opening half was that we started to let up and get lazy with the ball once we had a comfortable lead. You can’t afford to do that against the better teams – you have to be able to finish the half and finish the game.”
Trailing 36-17 with 3:47 left in the half, UW-River Falls cut the lead to 13 by halftime with a an 8-2 run.
Gustavus shot 48.5-percent (16-33) from the field in the opening half, while UW-River Falls shot 36-percent (9-25). Julia Dysthe led the way with 12 points after going 5-for-10 from the floor.
“I was pleased with how we came out in the second half,” commented Kelly. “We built a 20-point lead quickly and were able to sustain a large lead for the remainder of the game.”
Gustavus went up 45-29 two minutes into the second half, then extended its edge to 56-35 by the 14:40 mark.
The Gusties’ largest lead of the night came with 5:38 left on the clock when Karina Schroeder (So., Lake Crystal, Minn.) converted on a right-handed layup. Shroeder was in foul trouble in the first half but still managed to score seven points after going 3-or-5 in the second half.
The Gusties shot 50-percent (15-30) from the field in the second half, and limited the Falcons to just 32.4-percent (12-37) shooting. Britta Rinke (Sr., Waconia, Minn.) went 4-for-7 from the field to lead the way with nine points in the frame. Rinke finished second on the team in scoring with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting.
Dysthe finished 7-for-16 from the field, 2-for-5 from three-point range, and 2-for-2 at the line. Lindsey Johnson (So., Edina, Minn.) scored 13 points after going 5-for-8 from the field and 3-for-4 at the line, and Karina Schroeder rounded out Gustavus’s double-digit scorers with 11 points after going 5-for-7 from the floor.
Gustavus’s starting five of Dysthe, Rachelle Blaschko (Sr., Henderson, Minn.), Rinke, Johnson, and Schroeder combined for 62 points and shot 50-percent (25-50) from the field.
Gustavus won the turnover battle 27-19 but was out-rebounded 44-34. Of their 19 giveaways, 13 came in the first half. “As a whole, we have to value the ball better in the future than we did tonight,” Kelly stated. “With that said, we did a nice job controlling possession and limiting turnovers in the second half.”
“Aside from all the bunnies we missed, I’m very pleased with both our shot selection and how well we shot tonight,” Kelly continued. “Whether it was in the interior or on the perimeter, we generated good looks and were able to knock down a lot of shots from all over the court.”
Gustavus finished 31-for-63 (49.2%) from the field, 4-for-9 (44.4%) from three, and 11-for-16 (68.8%) at the line. After going 0-for-2 from three-point range in the opening half, Gustavus went 4-for-7 in the second.
UW-River Falls was held to 33.9-percent (21-62) shooting from the field, 21.4-percent (3-14) from three, and 64.7-percent (11-17) at the line. Tess Lueders led the Falcons in scoring with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting.
“It feels good to start the year off with a win at home,” concluded Kelly. “Tonight was a good confidence boost and a good starting point as we head into our first road game of the season on Saturday.”
Gustavus will travel to Morris, Minn. to face UM-Morris at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 23.