St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus women’s basketball team saw its five-game winning-streak come to an end with a 66-60 loss to Bethel University on Wednesday night at Gus Young Court. After a back-and-forth second half, Bethel outscored Gustavus 7-2 in the final 1:16 to earn its second straight victory. Gustavus drops to 13-9 overall and 10-9 in the MIAC with the loss, while Bethel improves to 16-6 overall and 14-5 in the MIAC with the win.
“It’s disappointing but we go into every game expecting to win and tonight we didn’t play our best basketball,” said Head Coach Laurie Kelly. “We just didn’t have enough players step up and missed a lot of easy chances to score throughout the night. This doesn’t end our season but we want to continue to play our best basketball as we get closer to clinching a spot in the postseason. We’ve put ourselves in a great position up to now and we have to find a way to finish strong.”
The Royals took control early and grabbed an 18-6 lead by the 13:21 mark of the first half. Taking advantage of Bethel’s 12 first half turnovers, Gustavus chipped away at the lead and used a 13-4 scoring run to bring the game within three points at 22-19 (8:10). The Royals quickly responded and got things back on track with an 8-0 run to push their lead to 30-19 with 6:42 left in the half.
Over the remaining minutes of the frame, Gustavus whittled down the gap to five points (32-27) with 1:23 left, and Bethel took a six point advantage into halftime up 35-29 after Karina Schroeder (So., Lake Crystal, Minn.) converted on a layup in the final five seconds.
Gustavus shot just 29.4-percent from the field in the first half, as Lindsey Johnson (So., Edina, Minn.) led the way with 10 points (3-4 FG, 4-4 FT). Bethel shot 43.3-percent and was led in scoring by Kalli Zimmermann who had 10 points (4-6 FG, 2-2 FT) as well.
The Gusties wasted no time getting back into the game in the second half. After the Royals went up 37-31, Gustavus scored nine unanswered points to take a 40-37 lead with 15:45 on the clock.
The two teams went back-and-forth over the next ten minutes with neither club able to gain the upper hand. Each time Gustavus grabbed an advantage, Bethel had the answer. Gustavus went up two points on two occasions in the final four minutes yet couldn’t get defensive stop on the ensuing possession.
“Stop-score-stop, we preach that to our players all the time,” said Kelly about her team’s defensive effort late in the game. “Tonight we weren’t able to get that key stop that would have been a big swing in the game. You can’t afford to give up those baskets against good teams or they will make you pay like Bethel did tonight.”
With the scored tied at 56-56 with 2:41 to play, a converted three-point play on a layup by Zimmermann turned out to be the final lead change of the game. The Gusties couldn’t make up the deficit from that point on and Bethel held on for the six point win.
Zimmermann turned out to be too much for Gustavus’s defenders in the second half as the rookie scored 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 7-of-10 shooting from the free throw line. She finished with a game-high 29 points after going 10-for-15 from the field and 9-for-12 at the charity stripe.
“This game really came down to individual defense and a few possessions where they made plays and we didn’t,” stated Kelly. “We really didn’t have an answer for Zimmermann. Whether it was man or zone, we didn’t do a good job of containing her and she took advantage.”
Gustavus shot an improved 37.9-percent from the field in the second half to finish at 33.3-percent (21-63) for the game. The Gusties also shot 33.3-percent (1-3) from three-point range and 85-percent (17-20) at the line.
The Black and Gold finished with three players in double-figures. Karina Schroeder led the way with 17 points on 5-of-10 from the field and 7-of-8 at the line. Lindsey Johnson ended up with 12 points (4-10 FG, 4-4 FT), and Julia Dysthe (Sr., White Bear Lake, Minn.) rounded out the group with 11 points (5-13 FG).
“Our rebounding was not sharp but we did a great job getting to the line and knocking down free throws. It was also nice to see Karina go at and score points against a bigger post player. She has struggled against shot blockers this season but tonight she did a good job mixing up her shot selection and getting to the line.”
Bethel shot 41.1-percent (23-56) from the field, 33.3-percent (5-15) from three, and 65.2-percent (15-23) at the line. The Royals had a 44-34 rebounding edge, but Gustavus won the turnover battle 12-21.
The Gustavus women’s basketball team will be back on the hardwood this Saturday, Feb. 15 when it hosts Saint Mary’s at 1:00 p.m. on Gus Young Court.
“We play well against Saint Mary’s and have the ability to play with them,” Kelly said about Gustavus’s upcoming game. “We rely heavily on our seniors and they will need to play well in order for us to be successful. It’s Senior Day and its hard not to get excited for their last game on Gus Young Court.”