St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus women’s basketball team jumped out to a comfortable lead early in the first half and never looked back, leading Augsburg by as much as 15 points to earn a 61-51 victory on Wednesday night at Gus Young Court.
The Auggies clawed their way back in the second half, thanks to the game’s leading-scorer Jessica Lillquist who scored 11 points in the second half, but Augsburg was never able to gain the lead. Following the win, Gustavus improves to 9-8 overall and 6-8 in conference play while Augsburg drops to 7-9 and 4-9 in conference play.
Gustavus started out the scoring for the night with a jump shot by Britta Rinke (Sr., Waconia, Minn.). A three-pointer by Julia Dysthe (Sr., White Bear Lake, Minn.) put the Gusties on top 5-0 at the 18:47 mark. It wasn’t until the 17:28 mark that the Auggies would get on the board with a layup by Jessica Lillquist. By the 2:31 mark the Gusties were ahead by 15 points—their biggest point margin of the night. The Auggies then went on a 7-0 run to finish out the first half and send the two teams into the locker rooms with Gustavus leading 30-22.
“Even though we had a lead in the first half, we didn’t shoot very well,” said Head Coach Laurie Kelly. “Our three leading scorers were 3-for-16 from the field and we were struggling to score. Fortunately our defense came to play early and when you only give up 22 points in a half, you can afford to struggle somewhat offensively.”
Gustavus came off the break strong, increasing their lead to 10 points within the first 15 seconds of the second half. The two teams battled back-and-forth in the opening minutes of the second half, but the Gusties managed to increase their lead to 12 points (48-36) at the 9:15 mark. For the next minute and 45 seconds it was all Augsburg, with the Auggies going on another 7-0 run to cut the lead to 48-43 with 7:50 remaining. A three-pointer by Rachelle Blaschko (Sr., Henderson, Minn.) ended the Gusties’ dry spell and increased their lead to eight (53-45) with 5:20 on the clock. From that point on, Gustavus clamped down defensively and would hold Augsburg to only eight more points on the night.
“We shot the ball better but at the same time allowed them to shoot better. We had a lot of breakdowns on defense and although we were able to hold on to the lead, I never felt like we got into a rhythm offensively. Some of that was dictated by Augsburg’s defense – we struggled to get quality shots against their zone and made some critical unforced turnovers,” Kelly said about her team’s performance in the second half.
Blashcko set the tone for the Gusties’ win, playing a season-high 38 minutes and scoring a season-high 13 points. She went 5-for-9 from the field, 3-for-6 from beyond the arc and distributed a game-high five assists.
“Rachelle was really big for us tonight and it was good to see her knock down some shots tonight. She struggled from the field on Saturday at Concordia but bounced back with a good all-around performance tonight. They gave her open looks and it was great to see her gain some confidence and knock down those shots. She’s really beginning to come into her own as a floor general and it’s good to see her manage the game, limit turnovers, and dish out assists,” Coach Kelly said.
Lindsey Johnson (So., Edina, Minn.) was another big contributor in Gustavus’ win with 12 points on the night. Johnson shot 4-for-8 from the field and went 4-for-5 from the charity stripe.
Auggie Jessica Lillquist gave the Gusties a run for their money, scoring 11 of her game-high 17 points in the second half.
Gustavus earned 14 points off their bench with Hannah Howard (Fy., St. Paul, Minn.) and Anna Lundquist (So., Rochester, Minn.) each adding seven. Howard was 3-for-7 from the field and 1-for-2 at the line, while Lundquist was 3-for-4 from the field and 1-for-1 at the line.
Gustavus out-rebounded Augsburg 40-23, with Karina Schroeder (So., Lake Crystal, Minn.) bringing down a game-high 16 boards.
“Rebounding was a focus going into the game. We knew we had a size advantage and we wanted to get on the boards early. We missed a lot of easy put-backs, yet still managed to score some big second chance points,” commented Kelly.
Gustavus finished the game 23-for-54 (42.6%) from the field, 4-for-11 (36.4%) from three, and 11-for-15 (73.3%) at the line. Augsburg went 22-for-48 (45.8%) from the field, 3-for-12 (25.0%) from three, and 4-for-12 (33.3%) at the line.
“It was a must win for both teams tonight. We have to go into every game from here on out with that mentality,” concluded Kelly. “Last Saturday’s game gave us a lot of confidence and proved that we are a playoff caliber team who can play with anybody. Although I thought we digressed a little tonight, I’m proud of the way we dug deep and found a way to stay in front when they made surges in the second half. We’ll have a day off tomorrow and a chance to get back in the groove on Saturday against St. Olaf in a big game.”
The Gusties will be back on the hardwood on Saturday, Feb. 1st, when they host St. Olaf at 1:00 p.m.