Gusties’ Second Half Slump Leads to 66-70 Loss to Bethel

Posted on January 4th, 2023 by

BOX SCORE | PHOTO GALLERY

SAINT PETER, Minn. — Entering Wednesday’s game against Bethel having won four straight, the Gusties looked to carry their success into the new year. Unfortunately, the Royals had other plans.

Both teams entered the game sitting atop the MIAC standings with a record of 5-1, a mark shared with Hamline and Saint Benedict, as well. With the crucial MIAC victory, the Royals now share the lead with only Hamline, each team with a conference record of 6-1.

Despite carrying the lead through the first three quarters, the Royals made 11 free throws in the fourth to even the score and eventually take the lead over the Gusties with just 2:40 remaining in the game, defeating the Gusties by a final score of 70-66.

“We didn’t have the energy we have had in the past. We weren’t ourselves coming out of the gate,” said Head Coach Laurie Kelly. “We were doing everything we needed to do, we kept the lead for a majority of the game, but we stopped playing team basketball in the second half.”

Both teams struggled to get the offense rolling early, but the Gusties eventually emerged with the lead halfway through the first quarter. Grace Benz (Sr., Steele, N.D.) beat the buzzer at the end of the first 10 minutes to give the Gusties a six point lead heading into the second. The Royals slowly began to fight back in the second frame, putting up 16 points to the Gusties’ 17. Bethel’s Kendal Cox made two late layups to move the Royals within seven, as the teams headed to the locker rooms with the Gusties up 37-30.

The second half told the tale of a different story. The Royals managed to cut the deficit to just three in the third, outscoring the Gusties 19-15, thanks to 10 points from starter Emma Schultz. The game slowly started to slip out of the Gusties’ grip, as a series of fouls evened the score at 62-62 and again at 64-64. The Royals stifled the Gustie offense in the final minutes, sealing the victory at 70-66.

“We’re a really good defensive team and have been all year, but today was one of the first games that we were truly a no-show on defense. Giving up 70 points in the game and 40 in the second half is not our nature. Credit to Bethel, they made some important shots, but we were definitely a step behind defensively.”

Lexi Schermann (Jr., Mayer) finished the game with the team lead in points at 14, just one better than Benz, who led the Gusties in rebounds at nine. Anna Sanders (Sr., Vadnais Heights) led the team with five assists — all of which came in the first half. The Gusties finished shooting 48.1% from the field, 42.9% from behind the arc, and 66.7% from the free throw line.

“It was a disappointing game, but how we answer and bounce back from this will set the tone for the rest of the season. Conference games will keep coming quickly, and we have to be able to bounce back just as fast.”

The Gusties move to 8-2 on the season overall and 5-2 in the MIAC. They return to conference play this Saturday, inviting Carleton to Gus Young Court for a 3 p.m. tip off.

 

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