Gusties Dominate Ohio Wesleyan in First Round of NCAA Tournament Posted on March 3rd, 2023 by


WHITEWATER, Wis. — Thrive and advance.

The Gusties, now on an 18-game winning streak, brought the heat with them from Saint Peter, lighting up the court for 84 points in the first round of the NCAA Tournament — setting another record in the process. The win is the Gusties 26th this season, the most by any team in program history. The victory sends the Gusties to the round of 32, where they will face the winner of Webster and host UW-Whitewater Saturday night.

The Gusties jumped to an early 6-0 lead after tip off, and never took their foot off the pedal. Rachel Kawiecki (So., Richfield) was the spark in the Gustie fire to start the game, scoring four of the first six points and rounding out the quarter with the lead at seven. OWU, in their first NCAA appearance since 2009, battled back to get within two points of Gustavus halfway through the quarter, but it wouldn’t be nearly enough to catch the red-hot Gusties. Gustavus rounded out the quarter with an 11 point lead, 27-16.

The Gusties continued to dominate the floor in the second quarter, adding 19 more to their total. The Gusties built their lead to as many as 14, including the halftime score of 46-32. Morgan Kelly (So., Saint Peter) finished as the team’s leading scorer through the first two quarters, notching 10 points with a perfect 5-for-5 mark from the field. Kelly also knocked down six rebounds, including four on the defensive end, to keep Ohio Wesleyan at bay.

If the Bishops were hoping the break would slow down the Gusties, their hopes were quickly dashed.

The Gusties came out sizzling after the half, taking advantage of free-throw opportunities to build their biggest lead of the game at 24. OWU put up their best effort in the final quarter of the game, outscoring the Gusties 21-15, but it wouldn’t be nearly enough for a comeback effort, as the Gusties ended the Battling Bishops’ season with a 16-point defeat.

The Gustie offense was in full form against the Bishops, notching six different players in double figures. Kylie Baranick (So., Maple Grove) led the way, shooting 70.0% from the field for 17 points in the game. Kawiecki and Kelly each added 13 of their own, while Emma Kniefel (Jr., Medford) posted 11. Syd Hauger (Jr., Springfield) and Anna Sanders (Sr., Vadnais Heights) rounded out the double-digit scorers at 10 a piece. Rebounding efforts were led by Grace Benz (Sr., Steele, N.D.), who posted 10 overall, followed by Kelly with eight. Baranick added a team high in assists at eight, while Sanders posted the game’s lead in steals with four.

Sanders hit two three-pointers in the game, effectively tying her for the program record most 3-pointers in a season. She needs one more to hold the record outright, and needs six more steals to own the record of most steals in a season.

The Gusties will return to the second round of the tournament tomorrow night, facing either Webster or UW-Whitewater for a chance at advancing to the Sweet 16. Tip off is set for 7:30 p.m.



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