Women’s Basketball Rides Strong First Half To 70-68 Victory Over Hamline

Posted on December 13th, 2014 by

Mikayla Miller scored a game-high 28 points in Gsutavus's narrow victory over Hamline University on Saturday afternoon at Gus Young Court. Photo courtesy of CJ Siewert - Sport PiX.

St. Peter, Minn. – The Gustavus Adolphus women’s basketball team rode an 18 point halftime lead to a 70-68 victory over Hamline University on Saturday afternoon at Gus Young Court.  Playing at home for the final time in the 2014 calendar year, the Gusties took control late in the first half and then were able to gut out the win thanks to key possessions and clutch free throw shooting down the stretch.  Gustavus improves to 6-2 overall and 2-1 in the MIAC , while Hamline drops to 5-3 overall and 1-2 in the MIAC.

“It’s important for us to win at home and I’m proud of the fact that we pulled out a victory against a talented Hamline team,” said Head Coach Laurie Kelly.  “I give us a lot of credit for bearing down in crunch time.  I also think we learned a lot of lessons that I hope will propel us forward as we finish the year on the road against two non-conference opponents.”

Heading into this afternoon’s game, the Gusties knew they had to keep the MIAC’s leading scorer Jordan Sammons in check.  In the first half, Sammons picked up three fouls and was held to just five points on 2-of-9 shooting.

Following a sluggish start that saw Hamline with a one point lead up 9-8 with 13:48 on the clock, the Gustie offense began to click and over the next five minutes built a 10 point lead up 23-13 with 8:09 remaining.  Gustavus continued to surge forward and pushed its lead to 35-18 by the 3:10 mark.  After Hamline cut the gap to 15 points (38-23) with a Makenzie Lee three-pointer, Gustavus scored three points over the remainder of the half to go up 41-23 at the break.

Lindsey Johnson added 12 points and led the Gusties in rebounding with seven boards.

Lindsey Johnson added 12 points and led the Gusties in rebounding with seven boards.

The Gusties shot 51.7-percent from the field in the opening half and were led in scoring by Mikayla Miller (Fy., Goodhue, Minn.) and Lindsey Johnson (Jr., Edina, Minn.).  Miller had 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting by halftime, while Johnson had nine after going 4-for-8.

Kelly said that it was a game of two halves; one good and one not so good.  “The first half was exactly what we wanted from an execution perspective.  I was proud of our effort, only allowing 23 points and holding the league’s leading scorer to just five points.  Our game plan was carried out to perfection and I couldn’t have be happier with our performance in the opening 20 minutes.”

Hamline began to swing the momentum in its favor from the beginning of the second half.  Over the course of the opening four minutes of the half, Hamline cut the lead to six points (41-35) thanks to a 12-0 scoring-run.  It wasn’t until the 15:49 mark that Gustavus was able to record its first field goal and go up 43-35 on a layup by Miranda Rice (Fy., Forest Lake, Minn.).

“Hamline is a team that has the ability to close a gap in a short amount of time,” Kelly said.  “The first five minutes of the second half, particularly when you have the lead, are critical minutes in the game.  It is during those minutes where faltered the most.  We came out flat and exactly what we didn’t want to happen, happened.  The next thing you know it’s a ball game from that point on.”

Although Gustavus could not put Hamline away, the Pipers could not make up the gap over the next seven minutes.  After Chelsey Bonsante cut the margin to five points (56-51) at the 8:31 mark, Gustavus used an 8-0 run to build its lead back up to 13 points (64-51) by 5:41.

Despite the double-digit deficit in the late stages of the game, Hamline refused to go away quietly and scored 12 of the game’s next 14 points to cut the lead to 66-63 with 1:10 left in the game.  Following a pair of converted free throws by Hannah Howard (So., St. Paul, Minn.), Gustavus led 69-65 with :07 seconds on the clock.  Bonsante responded with a three-pointer on Hamline’s ensuing offensive possession to cut the lead to 69-68, and the Pipers fouled Maddie Ehrich (Sr., Eden Prairie, Minn.) on the following inbounds.  Ehrich knocked down 1-of-2 free tosses to put the Gusties on top 70-68, and Hamline was unable to get a shot off in the remaining :03 seconds of the game.

The Pipers were red hot in the second half, outscoring Gustavus 45-29 and shooting 63.3-percent from the floor.  Bonsante and Sammons came alive in the final 20 minutes, scoring 25 and 13 points, respectively.

Kelsey Carpenter races down the court on a breakaway.  Carpenter led Gustavus's bench with nine points.

Kelsey Carpenter races down the court on a breakaway. Carpenter led Gustavus’s bench with nine points.

“Nerves got the better of us and our inexperience started to show,” Kelly said about periodic stages of the second half.  “In the end, we were fortunate enough to play so well in the first half that time simply ran out Hamline in the second.  We were able to hold on and that’s what it really comes down to.  I was not pretty and we have a lot to work on, but it was a good gut-check test for this young team.”

Gustavus finished the game 41.4-percent (24-58) from the field, 33.3-percent (4-12) from three-point range, and 78.3-percent (18-23) at the free throw line.  Hamline shot 52.7-percent (29-55) from the field, 39.1-percent (9-23) from three, and 16.7-percent (1-6) at the line.

Despite being outshot and outrebounded, Gustavus won the turnover battle with a season-low 12 compared to Hamline’s 22.

“The highlight today was our ability to take care of the ball,” Kelly stated.  “We took care of the ball better today than in any game this season and when you face a team that shoots over 50-percent from the field, that’s a huge.  That and our defense being able to force so many turnovers were two key elements in this win.”

Led by Mikayla Miller, Gustavus finished with three players in double-figures including Hannah Howard and Lindsey Johnson.  Miller scored a game-high 28 points after going 9-for-22 from the field, 2-for-5 from three, and 8-for-10 at the line.  Howard scored 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting, while Johnson also added 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting.  Johnson also brought down a team-best seven rebounds.  Kelsey Carpenter added nine points (4-8 FG) and was the only Gustavus bench player to hit the scoring column.

“Mikayla Miller was surely the player of the game,” Kelly said about her rookie guard.  “She makes plays, creates shots, played a key role in getting Sammons in foul trouble early, handled the ball well all game, and contributed a lot of minutes.  Our shot selection has to improve throughout the team, but we had a good balance of contributions.”

The Gustavus Adolphus women’s basketball team takes a two-game winning-streak into a pair of non-conference games to close out the 2014 calendar year.  The Gusties will travel to St. Paul to face Northwestern on Dec. 20 at 3:00 p.m. and River Falls, Wisconsin to take on UW-River Falls on Dec. 30 at 7:00 p.m.

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