Women’s Basketball Drops Ranked Matchup 74-66 To St. Thomas

Posted on December 13th, 2017 by

Miranda Rice goes up for two. (photo courtesy of SPX Sports)

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ST. PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus women’s basketball team lost its first game of the season 74-66 to St. Thomas on Wednesday evening. The Tommies used a 29-11 advantage in the second quarter to create separation and fended off a second half comeback to secure the win in a match of nationally ranked teams. No. 12 Gustavus drops to 7-1 overall and 3-1 in the MIAC, while No. 11 St. Thomas improves to 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the league.

The first quarter featured a back-and-forth affair to start before the Gusties scored 10 unanswered points to take a 16-10 advantage after the first 10 minutes. The home team increased their lead by nine in the first two minutes of the second frame, but that’s when the Tommies went on a 27-6 run to close out the half, taking a 39-27 advantage into the locker room.

“We felt really good after the first quarter, holding them to just 10 points, but the second quarter was the worst we’ve played all year from a defensive standpoint,” Head Coach Laurie Kelly said. “We let our offensive struggles affect our defense and against quality teams, that 10 minutes can cost you a game.”

After trading buckets to start the third quarter, the Gusties found a rhythm by scoring 12 unanswered points, fueled in large part by Mikayla Miller’s (Sr., Goodhue, Minn.) 10 points in that span, to take a 48-47 lead with 3:31 left in the frame. But that would be the home team’s last lead of the night as the Tommies finished the third quarter with an 11-5 run. Gustavus got within four points with 1:57 left in the game, but could not complete the comeback as St. Thomas made 5-of-6 free throws in the final 40 seconds to close out the game.

“When it came to crunch time St. Thomas made big plays,” Kelly said. “It real came down to fundamentals. Both teams were good enough to win the game, but they were able to execute.”

Miller led all scorers with 24 points on 7-of-18 shooting from the floor. She also made 8-of-10 free throws. Miranda Rice (Sr., Forest Lake, Minn.) added 14 points and Kendall Thompson (Jr., Eden Prairie, Minn.) contributed 11 points along with a career-high 11 rebounds. As a team, the Gusties shot 38.7 percent compared to 58.1 percent by the Tommies. The visitors also turned the ball over 19 times, but the Gusties were only able to generate 22 points off the takeaway.

Gustavus now enters a stretch of three non-conference games over the holiday break, starting with Coe College at home 5 p.m. next Friday. The Gusties then travel to Waverly, Iowa on Dec. 29-30 for the Wartburg Holiday Tournament to face No. 13 UW-Whitewater and UW-Superior or No. 4 Wartburg.

“Two of our next three games could be against ranked opponents in the top 15 in the country, which is simulating another NCAA tournament experience,” Kelly said. “If this loss helps us make that next step toward being an NCAA quality team, then we’ll take the loss to learn from it and become better.”

 

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