Tradition of Excellence: Women’s Hoops Upsets Host, Advances to 2018 NCAA Sweet 16

Posted on March 30th, 2020 by

The Gusties celebrate after beating UW-Whitewater in the second round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. (Photo courtesy of Michael McLoone/UW-Whitewater Athletics)

In the absence of sports for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year, Gustavus sports information will provide a series of stories to take a look back at great moments in Golden Gustie athletics history, celebrating its proud tradition of excellence.

March 3, 2018

How Sweet It Is: Gustavus Women’s Basketball Advances With NCAA Tournament Win Over UW-Whitewater

By JJ Akin, on assignment for Gustavus Sports Information

BOX SCORE

WHITEWATER, Wis. –The Gustavus Adolphus College women’s basketball team turned in a record-breaking performance on Saturday night in Whitewater, Wis., defeating the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater 74-60 to advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament’s Round of 16. During the contest Mikayla Miller (Sr., Goodhue, Minn.) became the Golden Gusties’ all-time leader in career points scored with 1,792, breaking the previous record of 1,779 held by Jess Vadnais (2004-08).

“We knew what we needed to do,” Miller said in the postgame press conference. “Whitewater is really good at driving and they know how to get down and attack a defender, so it was important for us to have each other’s backs.”

After Miller kicked off the first quarter with a three-pointer, UW-Whitewater scored 10 unanswered points over the next five minutes before the Gusties turned it back on, cutting the lead to one behind five points and a steal from Kendall Thompson (Jr., Eden Prairie, Minn.). UW-Whitewater and Gustavus traded buckets in the closing minutes of the quarter, with the Gusties taking the lead at 14-13 with 56 seconds left before finishing the first trailing 16-14 to the host Warhawks.

The second quarter saw Gustavus cut the UW-Whitewater lead to two (32-30) after Justine Lee (Jr., Dawson, Minn.) converted on an and-one opportunity with 1:41 left, but the home team responded with five unanswered to close the half. Miranda Rice (Sr., Forest Lake, Minn.) had one point in the first quarter but caught fire in the second, adding 10 points to keep the Gusties in contention against the Warhawks, who looked poised to break the game open as they went into halftime with a 37-30 lead after shooting 46.9 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes of play.

But Gustavus was a different team in the second half, coming out of the break with a 10-point run made possible by a stingy defensive effort and strong rebounding by the Black and Gold.

“Down seven heading into the third quarter, defense made the difference for us,” head coach Laurie Kelly said.

With 3:20 left in the third, Miller took a pass from Rice on the right wing and sent home a three-pointer to put the Gusties up 43-40 and break the Gustavus women’s basketball all-time scoring record. From there, she would go on to add 11 more to finish with 21 on the night and 1,792 (and counting) over the course of her career.

“It all comes back to my teammates,” Miller said of her scoring record. “I wouldn’t be able to shoot if Miranda wasn’t down low getting doubled and creating openings for me.”

The Golden Gusties outscored the Warhawks 20-7 in the third, building their biggest lead of the game as they went into the fourth quarter leading 50-44.

“All the hours that you put in in the gym gives you the confidence to call for the ball,” added Rice, who led all scorers with 26 points and 11 rebounds in the game.

The Warhawks battled back early in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 52-52 with 7:14 left in regulation. But the Gusties were too much, building the lead to six (62-56) by 4:02 and taking advantage of UW-Whitewater fouls to finish the game with a final score of 74-60 to advance to the NCAA Division III Sweet Sixteen.

In the postgame press conference, Kelly highlighted the play and leadership of Rice and Miller.

“When they play well our team plays well. We’ve struggled at times when other teams have focused on our seniors,” the coach said. “It was their teammates, the ball-reversal, the waiting one extra second to make the pass. It really was a team effort to get these two (Rice and Miller) high-quality shots. It’s one of the best team games we’ve played this season.”

The Golden Gusties will be back in action next weekend in the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 16 where they will take on Thomas More (28-1) at a date and location to be determined soon.

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Previous “Tradition of Excellence” stories:

1987 Men’s Basketball Wins MIAC Playoffs

1985 Gymnastics Wins Division III National Championship

2009 Men’s Hockey Advances to NCAA Title Game

2015 Volleyball Wins 27 Straight

1971 Men’s Tennis Marks Coach Wilkinson’s First MIAC Title

Harren Captures 2005 NCAA Cross Country Title

1927 Baseball Claims First MIAC Championship

 

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