Women’s Basketball Eager To Begin 2017-18 Campaign

Posted on November 14th, 2017 by

Written by sports information student employee Marnie Wagner

ST. PETER, Minn. – One season removed from the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008, the Gustavus women’s basketball team tips off the 2017-18 campaign Wednesday with its sights set high. The Gusties begin the season on the road tomorrow against Buena Vista University, starting at 7 p.m. in Storm Lake, Iowa.

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Gustavus is picked to finish No. 2 in the MIAC according to the preseason coaches’ poll, behind perennial conference favorite St. Thomas, but the Gusties did receive four of 12 first-place votes. Last season the Gusties finished second in the league and posted a 25-3 overall record, tying the program record for most wins in a season.

Head Coach Laurie Kelly, now in her sixth season at Gustavus and 20th year coaching at the collegiate level, expects this season’s squad to be tough when the ball is in the other team’s hands.

“We are going to focus on our defense,” Kelly said. “We were one of the strongest defensive teams in the league last year, we led the league is steals, and I think that will continue to be a cornerstone for us. Let our defense trigger our offense.”

The Gusties, ranked No. 16 in the D3hoops.com Preseason Top 25, lost three seniors from last season, but have their top two point-scorers coming back in Mikayla Miller (Goodhue, Minn.) and Miranda Rice (Forest Lake, Minn.). D3hoops.com named Miller a Preseason All-American after earning honorable mention accolades after the 2016-17 season. Miller played in all 28 games last season, with a MIAC second-best scoring average of 16.6 points, while earning her third consecutive All-Conference nod. She led the MIAC from the free throw line, shooting 87.5 percent while leading the league in steals with 84 (3.0 per game). Rice, a 6-0 forward, appeared in all 28 games last season and was the second leading scorer for the Gusties, averaging 16.0 points per game, along with a team-high 55.8-percent shooting mark from the field. Rice, who earned All-Conference last season, also averaged 5.8 rebounds per game, blocked 13 shots, and made 52 steals.

Other key returners for Gustavus include Emee Udo (Sr., Apple Valley, Minn.), Brooke Lemke (Jr., Delano, Minn.), Justine Lee (Jr., Dawson, Minn.), Taylor Anderson (Jr., Rogers, Minn.), Kendall Thompson (Jr., Eden Prairie, Minn.), and Tierney Winter (So., Waterville, Minn.).

“For us, we really need to look to our returners to help us elevate back to competing where we were last year,” Kelly said. “With 11 new players on the team, we are really trying to teach people what Gustavus basketball is about.”

After losing just three seniors to graduation from last team’s roster, the Gusties bring 11 newcomers to the roster. Those newcomers include Maddie Wagner (Fy., New Richland, Minn.), Marnie Wagner (Fy. New Richland, Minn.), Rachel Skyberg (Fy., Pipestone, Minn.), Gabby Bowlin (Fy., Winona, Minn.), Marisa Gustafson (Fy., Mahtomedi, Minn.), Ava Gonsorowski (Fy., Esko, Minn.), Hailey Sorenson (Fy., Buffalo, Minn.), Paige Richert (Fy., Comfrey, Minn.), Tia Moscatelli (Fy., Forest Lake, Minn.), Vanessa Dimick (Fy., Northfield, Minn.), and Alison Hinck (Fy., White Bear Lake, Minn.).

“I am very excited about the future of Gustavus basketball, having 11 newcomers, its great,” Kelly said. “They are getting the opportunity to learn from some veteran players and yet we are really pushing the envelope for them to become some key roles for us.”

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