ST.PETER, Minn. – Coming off three days of rest, the Minnesota Morris women’s basketball team was eager to get back into competition, traveling to St. Peter to take part in the Gustavus Classic. The Cougars first opponent of the four-team Classic would be none other than the host school Gustavus Adolphus College.
The Gusties appeared to have its hands full early, but ultimately capitalized on 20 Cougars turnovers to race to a 75-51 win Friday night on Gus Young Court.
The Cougars managed to keep it a tight contest for much of the first quarter having a 9-6 Gustavus led being the biggest deficit. In fact, Minnesota Morris trailed by just a basket (14-12) heading into the second quarter.
Then the Gusties started to heat up.
A Kendall Thompson three-pointer pushed the lead to 19-12 with just over nine minutes left in the first half, propelled the Gusties on a 9-0 run before the Cougars’ Grace Olson connected on a shot from beyond the arch to cut the lead to 28-15. Despite managing to cut the lead to 31-19 after a pair of successful free throw attempts from Kendra Raths and a layup from Abby Van Kempen, the ability to capitalize on possessions off turnovers proved too much for the Cougars. It was another strong performance for the junior forward, reaching double figures for the second consecutive game.
Her 10 points was second only to Raths’ team-high 16 points. Van Kempen also recorded seven blocks and a block. Despite struggling near the paint, the senior from Sartell, Minn. was nearly perfect from beyond the arch, going 4-for-5 in the game. Led by Thompson’s 10 points in the first half, Gustavus maintained a 38-22 lead heading into the final half of play.
The hot hand for the Gusties maintained in the second half as they built a commanding 50-29 lead with just four minutes left to play in the quarter largely due to its stifling defense. In the final quarter of play it was all Gustavus, maintaining a commanding double-digit lead for much of half. In fact, after a tight first quarter, the Cougars were unable to bring the deficit to single-digits. A key bright spot for the Cougars was their ability to connect from the charity stripe, making 9-of-11 attempts. In fact, trio of Cougars were perfect from the line.
Minnesota Morris (0-2) will play Bethel Saturday on the final day of the Gustavus Classic. Tip-off is set for 1 P.M.