Guard Katie Stone scored a career-high 21 points to guide the No. 15-ranked St. Thomas women’s basketball team to a 66-51 victory over Gustavus Adolphus College in the first round of MIAC tournament play Tuesday night at Schoenecker Arena.
Despite earning a 15-point victory, the Tommies struggled to score for a majority of the game. Forward Taylor Young contributed 15 points in the win and said it was tough to play a team for the third time in one season.
“I think Gustavus came out really strong,” Young said. “They know our tendencies in and out. They know our plays.”
Despite losing the opening tip, an immediate over-and-back violation by Gustavus gave possession to St. Thomas, which resulted in a Tommie layup; however, that 2-0 advantage is the first and last time St. Thomas would hold the lead in the first half.
The first half was largely defined by fouls, turnovers and missed bunny shots, with St. Thomas shooting 33.3 percent from the field and committing 12 turnovers, while Gustavus shot 36 percent and gave the ball away 10 times.
The Tommies were down by two at the halfway mark with the score at 26-24, and began the second half slow with 3 turnovers in consecutive possessions.
Stone turned things around for St. Thomas when she hit two of her five 3-pointers to help her team go on a 22-5 run in the final 6 minutes of the contest. Stone had 10 points during that run, and 18 of her 21 came in the second half.
Stone attributed her performance to the effort of her team.
“I just think I was open at the right time, and my teammates just threw me good passes,” Stone said. “They were always trying to get me to make it.”
In the second half, the Tommies were 16-for-16 from the charity stripe; eight of which were made with just over one minute to play.
Coach Ruth Sinn said she was glad the team overcame the challenge Gustavus offered.
“It was a good test for our girls to be a little uncomfortable and to have to figure things out a different way,” Sinn said. “I was proud of them for that.”
St. Thomas will travel to Memorial Auditorium to take on Concordia Moorhead Thursday night in the MIAC Semifinals.
The Cobbers have defeated the Tommies twice in close games this season, and Sinn said the team is looking forward to the tough matchup.
“It’s going to be a great game. It always has been when we play them,” Sinn said. “We’re just excited about having the opportunity.”
Young said in the postseason the team is always focused on getting to the next game.
“I just don’t want to lose; I want to keep playing,” Young said. “We play hard so we can play another game together. We want to play together as long as possible.”
Molly Sigler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org