St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus women’s basketball team suffered its second straight loss at home to an MIAC opponent with a 76-73 defeat at the hands of the College of Saint Benedict on Wednesday night at Gus Young Court. Thanks to a strong finish and solid free throw shooting throughout, Saint Ben’s was able to come away with its second consecutive win in league play. Gustavus drops to 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the MIAC, while the Blazers improve to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in league play.
“Coming off a loss against Concordia in a game we just didn’t play good basketball, I thought our performance tonight was much improved,” said Head Coach Laurie Kelly. “Tonight as compared to our last game where we couldn’t get anything going in the second half, the team came out and battled from start to finish. We had chances to win it and that’s why this one hurts so much. We worked together and our energy was good, but unfortunately we didn’t have what it takes to push us over the top tonight.”
Despite being outshot 53.6 to 37.9-percent, Gustavus led for the majority of the first half. With the score tied at 11-11 with 13:01 on the clock, the two teams traded points before a pair of free throws by Julia Dysthe (Sr., White Bear Lake, Minn.) put the Gusties on top 18-15 with 11:43 left in the half.
Gustavus held on to the advantage until the Blazers used a 9-0 scoring run over a span of three minutes to go up 30-24 with 2:57 left. The Gusties cut the lead to four on two occasions in the final two minutes of the hafl, yet a Brianna Barrett layup brought the score to 36-30 at the break.
Mattie Lueck and Barrett led all scorers with ten points each in the opening 20 minutes. Gustavus was paced in scoring by Dysthe with eight points and Lindsey Johnson (So., Edina, Minn.) with seven.
Gustavus came out hot in the opening 1:08 of the second half, scoring the first seven points to go up 37-36 on a converted three-point-play by Dysthe. Seven lead changes later and a Dysthe jumper sparked a 7-0 run that put Gustavus on top 50-44 with 13:37 remaining in the game
The Gusties kept converting on the offensive end and led by six points (61-55) with 7:23 on the clock. Saint Ben’s battled back over the next four minutes and tied the game at 65-65 at the 3:25. The Blazers took the lead back for the first time since the 15:07 mark when Morgan Dale hit two free throws to give her squad a 67-65 advantage with 2:30 left to play.
Saint Ben’s looked to be in control with a five point lead (71-66) with 1:30 to go. Gustavus didn’t go quietly, however, and brought the score to 72-70 on two free throws by Julia Dysthe with :20 seconds left. Blazer Annie Dittberner hit two free tosses of her own on the next possession, yet Gustavus’s Britta Rinke (Sr., Wayzata, Minn.) burried a three-pointer with :11 seconds left to cut the lead to one (74-73). Brianna Barrett knocked down two free throws to bring the Blazer lead to 76-73, and Gustavus had one final shot with less than tens seconds to go. Dysthe got the ball at the top of the three-point arc where created space and an open look with a pump fake. Her game-tying attempt rimmed out and Saint Ben’s was able to survive in another down-to-the-wire contest.
Dysthe led Gustavus with 15 second half points on 6-of-11 shooting from the field. The senior led the way with a game-high 23 points after going 8-for-20 from the floor and 7-for-7 at the line. Britta Rinke finished with 15 points (7-19) and a game-high nine rebounds, while Karina Schroeder (So., Lake Crystal, Minn.), who was in foul trouble for much of the game, added 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
“Karina is a great inside presence for us and her getting into foul trouble hurts our rotation. Not having her on the floor was a key factor in the game,” Kelly commented. “Because of that, other players had to step up and contribute a lot of minutes. Julia and Britta showed up in the second half and kept us in the game.”
Saint Ben’s went 21-for-22 at the line in the second half, finishing the game 26-for-29 (89.7%). The Blazers shot 46.2-percent (24-52) from the field and ended up with fourth players in double-figures led by Mattie Lueck and Brianna Barrett with 18 points each, Annie Dittberner with 11, and Morgan Dale with 10.
The Gusties shot 42.6-percent (29-68) from the field, 25-percent (4-16) from three-point range, and 78.6-percent (11-14) at the line. Gustavus controlled the glasses 36-31, which included an 16-7 advantage on the offensive end.
“It was a fun game to be a part of, but it’s disappointing we didn’t come away with a win on our home court,” Kelly said. “Every game in the MIAC is going to be a battle and when games go down to the wire like this, you have to be able to find a way to dig deep and finish. Tonight we came up short, but as a whole I’m pleased with the improvement we’ve made up to this point.”
The Gustavus women’s basketball team will have more than a week to prepare for its final contest of the 2013 calendar year. The Gusties will be back on the hardwood, Saturday, Dec. 21 in a conference game against Augsburg College at 3:00 p.m. in Minneapolis.