Bench sharp, W. Basketball passes first playoff test

Bench sharp, W. Basketball passes first playoff test

Sophomore center Elsa Anderson contributed career highs with 15 points and 10 rebounds in relief of injured starter Hannah Spaulding and top-seed St. Thomas Women's Basketball never trailed in Thursday night's 65-44 MIAC semifinal round playoff victory over fifth-seed St. Mary's at Schoenecker Arena.

St. Thomas advances to the MIAC playoff championship for the ninth year in a row. The Toms face third-seed Gustavus at home in Saturday's 3 p.m. clash. The Gusties (22-5) won on the road Thursday at second seed St. Ben's, 61-53. The No. 8-ranked Tommies (24-2) have won 17 in a row on the season and 53 consecutive games against conference opponents.

UST used Anderson's productive game in her first career start and an additional 20-6 edge in bench points to build a cushion. They started the game with a 10-0 lead and later used an 11-2 run to push the margin to 29-14 just before halftime.

SMU (16-11) never got closer than 14 in the second half. Alexa Huisman and Shayley Vesel each scored 12 points, and Brandi Blattner had 11 points and nine boards. St. Mary's had won nine of its last 12 coming in and took the Tommies to the wire eight days earlier in Winona.

St. Thomas' defense helped limit St. Mary's to 29-percent shooting (16-of-56) and held the Cards to their second lowest scoring output of the season. St. Thomas had a 37-30 rebounding edge and outscored the visitors 24-12 from 3-point range.

UST junior Lucia Renikoff chipped in 13 points, 10 boards and four assists; freshman Kaia Porter added 11 points and seven rebounds; senor Lauren Fischer added nine points; and senior Maddie Wolkow scored eight points. Five different Tommies sank a 3-point basket.