Women’s Basketball Earns First Playoff Win Since 2012 With 65-40 Victory Over Saint Benedict In MIAC Quarterfinals

Posted on February 23rd, 2016 by

Mikayla Miller led the way for Gustavus on Tuesday, earning her third double-double of the season with 24 points and 10 assists. (Photo courtesy of Roisen Granlund '17)

Gustavus 65, Saint Benedict 40 (Box) | Photo Gallery | MIAC Women’s Basketball Playoff Page

ST. PETER, Minn. – Playing in its first home playoff game since the 2011-12 season, the Gustavus Adolphus College women’s basketball team put on a show for its home crowd, earning the largest margin of victory in program history by taking control from the start and eventually finishing with a 25-point, 65-40 victory over No. 6 seed College of Saint Benedict on Tuesday evening at Gus Young Court in the MIAC Playoff Quarterfinals. With the win, the No. 3 seeded Gusties advance to Thursday’s semifinal round in Winona, Minn. against No. 2 seed Saint Mary’s University.

“This was by far my favorite game that I’ve ever coached at Gustavus,” said Coach Laurie Kelly who earned her first playoff victory at Gustavus with Tuesday’s win. “The fans certainly made it as special as it was, and it was a combination of our families and Gustie students. It brought a tournament-like atmosphere and it was such an advantage for us. Our players came out of the gates ready to go, the crowd energized us, and that really helped us get a big lead early, which set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Gustavus started strong, going on a 9-0 run over first 5:21, keyed by six Saint Benedict turnovers during that span. The Blazers’ Niki Fokken then scored a layup that led to a 6-0 Saint Benedict run to bring the score to 9-6. However, a Justine Lee (Fy., Dawson, Minn.) three-pointer sparked a 15-2 run for the Gusties to close the quarter. Mikayla Miller (So., Goodhue, Minn.) starred during that stretch, scoring seven points, six of which came on fastbreak layups and went toward her total of 11 in the first quarter alone.

The Gustavus Hill Crew was out in full force Tuesday night.

The Gustavus Hill Crew was out in full force Tuesday night.

“This type of game is right up Miller’s alley…this is what she does,” said Kelly. “She thrives in this type of environment and feeds off the energy from the crowd and her teammates. She was huge for us tonight on all ends of the floor and that’s why she’s one of the best players in the league. She can score, she can distribute, she gets steals, and this was one of her best games of the season for sure. I’m very proud of her.”

In the second quarter, Saint Benedict started the scoring with its first three-pointer of the contest, but Gustavus would rebound and eventually go into halftime up 19 at 38-19, thanks in large part to long range buckets from Miller and Lindsey Johnson (Sr., Edina, Minn.), as well as eight Blazer turnovers. The Gusties were also able to hold Saint Benedict to 25 percent shooting (7-of-28) in the first half.

“We were able to accomplish the game plan that we had set out for, especially on the defensive end,” said Kelly. “They’re a one-on-one team that loves to get to the rim and I thought we did a great job of protecting the paint. Seeing them six days ago was a big advantage for us, as we were able to tweak our game plan from what we did at their place. I don’t feel we played well against them on either occasion during the regular season, and I felt that if we could just play smarter and the way we’re capable of, we could pull away and we were able to do that tonight.”

Steph Klockmann was one of six Gusties to score seven or more points in Tuesday's game.

Steph Klockmann was one of six Gusties to score seven or more points in Tuesday’s game.

Similar to last Wednesday’s contest with Saint Benedict, the Gusties poured it on in the third quarter. Gustavus never allowed the Blazers to get close, as it shot 9-for-15 from the floor and took advantage of four Saint Benedict turnovers in the quarter to head into the final 10 minutes with a comfortable 24 point lead at 55-31.

In the final frame, the Gusties didn’t let up, bringing their lead to 30 with 5:24 to play on another triple from Lee. For the second game in a row and the seventh time this season, Gustavus was also able to clear its bench, playing all 15 individuals on its playoff roster, and having 11 of those 15 players score.

Miller led the way individually with her third double-double of the season, scoring 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting, dishing out 10 assists, and also adding five steals and three rebounds. Johnson was next with nine points, while Lee and Steph Klockmann (So., Brownton, Minn.) each added eight, and Hannah Howard (Jr., St. Paul, Minn.) and Miranda Rice (So., Forest Lake, Minn.) notched seven.

“The balance on the offensive end is key for us and it has been all year,” said Kelly. “With that kind of depth, I think we’re a tough team to match up with. If someone isn’t playing well one day, there’s someone down the line who can pick up the slack, and that’s something that hasn’t always been the case in seasons past.”

Overall, Gustavus shot 47.5 percent from the floor and held Saint Benedict to 28.5 percent shooting. The Gusties were outrebounded (39-32) for just the sixth time this season, but made up for it with 19 steals and by forcing 26 Blazer turnovers, which led to 36 points off turnovers and 14 fastbreak points.

Now, the Gusties travel to Saint Mary’s to face a Cardinal team that has eliminated Gustavus from the MIAC Playoffs in two of the last three seasons, including last season’s 90-58 loss in the MIAC Quarterfinals.

“We haven’t seen Saint Mary’s for two and a half months and we’re a much different team at this point of the season, as are they,” said Kelly. “I’m excited to go head-to-head with them and we’ll be ready. We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now, there’s a lot at stake, and I know our team will be up to the challenge that awaits.”

Tipoff between the Gusties and Cardinals is set for 7 p.m. at the SMU Gym.


One Comment

  1. Ed Stern says:

    Great interview, Mik!!!!! Just like a mini-Pat Lund from channel 10!!! Good luck to the Gusties on Thursday!!