Gustavus led 18-15 at the 8:00 mark of the 1st half, and then out-scored the Tommies 28-18 over the first 19:54 of the 2nd half.
If you inferred from that that St. Thomas made some hay in the other 8:06, your powers of inference are above average. Starting from the end: The Gusties tied the game for the 1st time since 18-all at 48-48 with 1:34 left on a 3 by Ava Perry, her only bucket of the night. Maggie Weiers missed a shot for the Tommies with 1:00 left, then Molly Mathiowetz missed a tough shot into a strong St. Thomas double-team for Gustavus with 35 seconds remaining. The Tommies almost turned it over, but Taylor Young tracked down the ball in the corner, quickly drew a double-team and called timeout.
Tommies coach Ruth Sinn diagrammed some two-on-two for Taylor Young, her best scorer, and Jazmin Townsend, her best passer. Young, at the top of the key, got the ball to Townsend, worked her way about halfway to the hoop in the lane, took the return pass from Townsend and put up an 8-footer that fell through the hoop at 0:05.6.
Now Gustavus called the timeout, after which Molly Geske took the in-bound pass and drove all the way down to the 3-point line, where she put up a long 2-pointer that fell short.
The game started nip-and-tuck, the largest lead for either team being 3 points at 13-10 St. Thomas, and 16-13 and 18-15 Gustavus. The Tommies had made 7-of-18 shots when they got hot, making 4 of their next 5, and 5-of-8 while Gustavus scored just 2 points in the final 8:00 of the first half. More to the point, 4 of the 5 FG were 3s. A Carolyn Dienhart 3 from a Townsend assist tied it at 18. A Sarah Smith 3 from Becky Thiesen made it 21-18. A Kellie Ring 3 from Thiesen made it 24-20. And a Townsend 3 from Ring made it 30-20 at the half.
When Dienhart opened the 2nd half with a 3 to make it 33-20, the Tommies' 6th of the night, St. Thomas seemed to be on their way to an easy victory. But, now it was their turn go cold: 6 minutes without a point. But the Gusties shot only 3-of-9 and still trailed 37-29 after Smith hit a pair of throws and Townsend another bucket. At 5:30 it was still 46-37.
But the Tommies were clearly struggling. Their offense made little progress toward the rim. They were moving the ball and themselves laterally just to find an open passing lane. And, yet the turnovers were coming with alarming frequency, 11 of them in the 2nd half alone at 2:31.
And, meanwhile, Mathiowetz had decided that if her career was going to end tonight, it wasn't going to be for a lack of effort. She hit 2 quick buckets to start the half, then 2 free throws, and then a putback off the offensive board to get within 33-29. She added a steal and a bucket (separate plays) in the 13-14 minute timeframe, and a blocked shot at 5:30. Then over the final 5 minutes she added 6-of-6 throws, an offensive board and another steal.
Her 6 free throws were news. They let 'em play in the 1st half. Gustavus didn't commit their 1st foul until there was only 2:12 left! Then in the 2nd half, suddenly, people were shooting free throws. Considering the futility of the two offenses at times, you'd have to say there were some bail-out foul calls.
Still, Mathiowetz was the best player on the floor, because she was just about the only one taking it to the rim. She finished with 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting; all other Gustavus players shot 11-of-39 FG. Young, Smith and Townsend scored 10 points each for the Tommies. Smith led the way with 11 rebounds, and Young with 5 assists and 4 steals.
The one thing the Tommies did well was shoot the 3: 7-of-13, one short of their season high. Dienhart and Townsend led the way with 2 each.
The Tommies' two posts were a shocking 2-for-8 for 4 points, with 5 boards in 43 minutes. Mathiowetz, who gave away a good 50 pounds to each of them, had 8 in 34.
Their 50 points was the lowest total in any of their 40 post-season wins, and the lowest in any win in 7 years.
Gustavus gets everybody but Mathiowetz back, and they've got the 6-2 Abby Rothenbuhler groomed to fill that slot. She was productive with 6 points and 3 boards in 12 minutes. And Molly Geske, the Gusties top scorer during the regular season, should have a chip on her shoulder after her 1-for-10, 2 point night last night.
The Tommies now host Concordia in the MIAC final at the new Schoenecker Arena. They'll have to play significantly better than they did last night if they're going to defend their MIAC post-season title.