By Chad Courrier
Free Press Staff Writer
ST PETER —
One of the Gustavus Adolphus women’s basketball parents said it the other day, and it really struck Abby Rothenbuehler.
“They said, the season’s about halfway over,” she said. “I think all the seniors and the whole team has the same goals: NCAA tournament, conference championship ... bring it on.”
There’s more of a sense of urgency for Rothenbuehler, the Mankato West grad who is nearing the end of an accomplished career at Gustavus. She’s played in 89 games and started 38, including all 36 over the last two seasons, making her the most experienced player on the roster heading into this season.
“It’s been well worth it,” she said. “I know I picked the right school. I couldn’t be happier.”
Heading into Monday’s game against Macalester, Rothenbuehler leads the Gusties in scoring (13.7 points per game) and rebounding (8.8) and is tied for first in blocked shots (20). She’s shooting 53.5 percent from the field, making 9 of 12 from 3-point range, and 74.1 percent on free throws. She’s been the team’s leading scorer four times and leading rebounder nine times, posting a pair of double-doubles.
“She was our only returning starter so she brought a lot of experience,” said first-year coach Laurie Kelly. “She’s feisty, competitive, and she sets a high standard for herself.”
For her career, Rothenbuehler has 719 points and 562 rebounds, which ranks 23rd and ninth, respectively, in program history. Her 100 blocked shots is tied for third at Gustavus.
Rothenbuehler has a chance at her current pace, with 14 games remaining in the regular season plus any postseason games, to reach 1,000 points and 700 rebounds, which has happened only twice at Gustavus. With 91 career games, she has a chance to break that record of 108.
Rothenbuehler has battled herself as much as the opponent in her career. She’s her harshest critic, and in the past, she’s let bad plays affect her far too long.
Kelly said she works with Rothenbuehler to focus on the many good things that happen instead of the few errors, but Rothenbuehler said that at halftime of Saturday’s victory over Hamline, she was down on herself for three missed layups.
“I’m a senior now, and I have to be a leader,” she said. “I’m always trying to make myself a better player. I’m not as bad as I used to be, but it still bothers me when I don’t play well.”
The Gusties (9-2) have won eight straight games and are tied for the lead in the MIAC at 8-0 with St. Thomas, Wednesday’s opponent.
“The most fun thing is that we were overlooked in the conference,” Rothenbuehler said. “We were picked (fourth) in the preseason poll. The last three years, we’ve had successful seasons, and I really want to end my senior year with another winning season.
“All the years of working at it, the camps, practices, the film watching .... it’s all worth it. It’s amazing to think it all comes down to the next few weeks.”