Women’s Basketball Historic Run Comes to a Close with 68-63 Loss to UW-Whitewater Posted on March 4th, 2023 by


WHITEWATER, Wis. — The Gustavus women’s basketball has had an incredible run to the top this season, claiming both MIAC championship titles, earning national recognition in the NCAA DIII top-10, and losing only two regular season games this season. That run came to an unfortunate end Saturday night, as the UW-Whitewater Warhawks ended the Gusties’ season in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

The Gusties, who have rarely ever played from behind this season, found themselves facing a deficit of seven after the first quarter, 18-11. The Gusties started off strong after the tip, scoring the games’ first four points, but the Warhawks were relentless in their shooting, hitting three 3-pointers in a row to take back the lead and separate from the Gusties halfway through the first frame. A Warhawk scoring run of 11 in the first ended the first quarter 18-11.

The Gusties came out with momentum in the second quarter, getting a 3-pointer from Kylie Baranick (So., Maple Grove) and hitting 4-for-4 free throws to even the score at 18-18. From there, though, the Gusties would only get three more points for the rest of the quarter, while the Warhawks would put up 15 of their own to end the half 33-21.

The Gusties’ slow shooting started to resolve itself after the half, outscoring the Warhawks in the final two quarters. The third frame was a valiant back-and-forth effort from both teams, with the Gusties putting up 17 points to the Warhawks’ 16. Emma Kniefel (Jr., Medford) was led the Gusties out of the half, scoring five points, including a crucial 3-pointer halfway through the quarter. A layup from Morgan Kelly (So., Saint Peter) to end the quarter brought the Gusties within 11, 49-38.

Despite the double-figure deficit, the Gusties did not quit on the game, battling to the final buzzer. Three points from Kelly got the Gusties within single digits at 49-41. The Warhawks responded, bringing their lead back out to 17. But Kniefel, as she was the quarter before, was crucial for the Gustie offense, bringing the deficit back within nine.

Anna Sanders (Sr., Vadnais Heights), who had been silenced by the Warhawks until the final quarter, hit a 3-pointer off a Warhawk turnover to bring the score within six, 64-58. With just 46 seconds remaining, Kelly hit another crucial 3-pointer, giving the Gusties hope in the final minute of play. The Warhawks made two free throws to bring it back to five, but Syd Hauger (Jr., Springfield) came in clutch with a layup for a 66-63 score with just 21 seconds remaining. The Warhawks closed the gap with two more free throws, sealing their NCAA victory at 68-63 over the MIAC’s top team.

Kniefel finished as the Gusties’ point leader with 17 on the night, including two 3-pointers and a perfect showing from the free throw line. Baranick was next for the Gusties, totaling 13, while Kelly finished with 12. Grace Benz (Sr., Steele, N.D.) led the Gusties’ rebound efforts one final time, pulling down eight total and six on the defensive end. The Gusties finished shooting just 37.1% from the field, while the Warhawks finished at 40.7%, including a 7-for-16 mark from behind the 3-point arc.

Sanders’ fourth quarter three was her 66th this season, putting her first in Gustavus women’s basketball program history for most 3-pointers in a season. She added one more to seal the deal at 67 for the season. With one steal against the Warhawks, Sanders finished tied for fourth in the record book for most steals in a single season with 80 total this year. Baranick also added four more assists to close out the season at 112, good for seventh overall in all-time Gustavus history.

The Gusties finished with the most wins in a season in program history, with a final record of 26-3.


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