Women’s Hoops Downs Bethel 72-67, Advances To MIAC Playoff Championship

Posted on February 24th, 2017 by

Miranda Rice goes up for a layup. (Photo courtesy of CJ Siewert, Gustavus Sports Information)

BOX SCORE | PHOTO GALLERY 

ST. PETER, Minn. – The No. 13/17-ranked Gustavus women’s basketball team defeated Bethel University Friday evening by a score of 72-67 in a MIAC Playoff semifinal matchup at Gus Young Court. Miranda Rice (Jr., Forest Lake, Minn.) posted her first double-double of the season while Gustavus went 17-for-21 from the charity stripe, moving on to the MIAC Playoff Championship.

The victory stands as the 25th win of the campaign, tying a Gustavus women’s basketball program record for most wins in a season. The playoff win goes down as the 10th all-time MIAC Playoff victory as Gustavus will make its fourth all-time appearance in the MIAC Playoff Championship. The Gusties last made their way to the championship during the 2011-12 season, eventually falling to the University of St. Thomas.

“It was a hard fought battle by two quality teams,” said Head Coach Laurie Kelly. “We were fortunate to make some plays down the stretch to pull out a win, it feels amazing.”

Gustavus used a balanced scoring attack and a strong second-half free throw shooting effort to take down Bethel. Miranda Rice led the Gusties with 21 points and tied a career-high with 12 rebounds to record her first double-double of the season and fourth of her career. Three other Gustavus starters also notched double-digits in the scoring column. Justine Lee (So., Dawson, Minn.) notched 16 points and Mikayla Miller (Jr., Goodhue, Minn.) added 15 as they both were perfect from the free throw line, Lee going 7-for-7 and Miller 9-for-9. In addition, Hannah Howard (Sr., St. Paul, Minn.) tallied her third-straight double-digit scoring performance with 14 points.

The Gustie bench celebrates a big play. (Siewert photo)

An even first half saw the Gusties and the Royals trade eight lead changes. Gustavus held a slim 13-12 lead after the first 10 minutes before Bethel went 7-for-12 from the field in the second quarter to take a 33-32 lead into the intermission.

“I thought we struggled a bit defending the high-low, we gave up some easy inside layups off of our switches,” Kelly spoke on her first half thoughts. “We made some adjustments and I thought we did a much better job in the second half, we did a really good job getting to the rim.” 

The Gusties came out of the locker room going on a 19-15 run to begin the second half, owning a 51-48 lead heading into the final frame. They maintained the lead for the final 10 minutes, solidifying the win by going 9-for-9 from the charity stripe.

Bethel and Gustavus each registered 36 points in the paint while the Gusties were able to capitalize on its up-tempo style of play, leading in fast break points 12-0 over the Royals. Gustavus also out-rebounded Bethel by a margin of 41-32.

“It is almost surreal, you start October 15th and your whole goal is to win the conference championship and we’re 40 minutes away from that. We want to keep this roll going and our goal is to get to the NCAA Tournament and try to extend the season as long as we possibly can,” Kelly said.

The Black and Gold will face the University of St. Thomas Sunday for the MIAC Playoff Championship. The undefeated Tommies will be seeking their sixth consecutive playoff championship title while the Gusties hope to avenge their only loss of the season, which came against St. Thomas. Tip off is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at Schoenecker Arena in St. Paul.

 

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