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Emma Kniefel and her Gustavus Adolphus women's basketball teammates had their own championship game to play last Saturday. But they found time to make posters to support their men's team in what ended up a school sweep for the MIAC tournament titles.

The Gusties women won their third straight conference tournament in record fashion with the largest margin of victory in MIAC title game history. The Gusties men won for the first time since 2005.

It was a total takeover for Gustavus basketball over the weekend. Both MIAC championships were won on their home floor in St. Peter, Minn.

The Gusties show now goes on the road in the NCAA Division III tournament Friday. The men face Loras (Iowa) at Wisconsin-Platteville in the first round. The women play Trine (Ind.) in Oshkosh, Wis.

"It's just so fun for us to share that experience," said Kniefel, who led her team with 15 points in a 66-38 victory against Concordia (Moorhead) on Saturday. "We never thought that would be possible. To have that opportunity this year has been so special."

Not surprisingly, the Gusties women (25-2) steamrolled through their league playoffs again after a 19-1 record to defend the MIAC regular season title.

With the fifth-ranked team in the nation, veteran Gustavus coach Laurie Kelly has goals of surpassing the last two years, when she watched her players finish disappointed with losses in the first two rounds.

The deepest NCAA finish in program history was a Sweet 16 under Kelly in 2018. Last season, the Gusties women won a school-record 26 games but fell in the NCAA tournament second round by five points to Wisconsin-Whitewater.

"When you finally break the glass ceiling to get to the tournament — that's progress when you're building a program," Kelly said. "We're excited and hope we can get out of this weekend. Our big goal is to see if we can go further than any [Gustavus women's] team. Let's see if that happens."

All five starters have scoring averages of seven points or better, including Kniefel, Syd Hauger and Rachel Kawiecki about 11 points per game. Kelly's daughter, Morgan, is the team's fourth leading scorer (8.7) coming off the bench.

"This is a special team, a veteran team," Kelly added. "I don't think I've ever had a team in [27 years as a head coach and assistant] that was so balanced. Statistically, any of our top six kids can be the leading scorer. They're fun to watch and fun to coach."

With 10 losses entering the MIAC playoffs, the Gusties men were long shots to reach their first NCAA tourney since earning an at-large in 2012. They already made a turnaround from last season going from nine to 15 victories, but beating Hamline 72-71 in the tourney final was "pretty surreal," senior Wyatt Olson said.

"It was a jam-packed month with about 12 games and playing every other day," Olson said. "Being able to bring Gustavus back to the success of old was a goal of ours."

As if the championship weren't dramatic enough, Gustavus survived a double-overtime 124-116 thriller against second-seeded Carleton on the road in the semifinals. It was the highest-scoring game in conference playoff history. The game epitomized how they battled all season, second-year coach Justin DeGrood said.

NCAA D-III brackets: Women | Men

DeGrood was a player on the last two Gustavus teams that won MIAC regular season and tournament championships in 2004 and 2005. He understood how hard the road would be to win it all.

"It's always difficult to win this conference's playoff tournament," DeGrood said. "We had a tougher task to win three games to do it. Ultimately for us, we intentionally set up our nonconference schedule to really push us and play some tough games. I knew we had the ability."

They wouldn't be denied a chance to play for the MIAC crown at their home gym, but the Gusties men were also motivated by their friends on the women's side having another successful title run.

"There were a lot of Saturdays where we traveled together and were the only ones supporting each other," leading scorer and junior Spencer Swanson said. "It really grows a bond between the two teams."

Five Minnesota teams reached the NCAA Division III men's and women's tournaments this year, including the Bethany Lutheran men (UMAC tourney champion), Minnesota-Morris women (UMAC tourney champion) and Concordia-Moorhead women (at-large).

Fuller's Five

Five Minnesota ballers who stood out:

Maddy Grove, Minnesota Morris

The 6-foot freshman earned UMAC tourney MVP honors after leading the Cougars with 18 points in the 69-60 upset against No. 1 seed Wisconsin-Superior last weekend. Grove is the cousin of Gophers recruit and Alexandria senior Grayson Grove.

Isaac Fink, Augustana (S.D.)

The senior guard from Springfield, Minn. was named national Division II player of the week after exploding for 39 points and 16 rebounds vs. Northern State and 33 points vs. the University of Mary last week.

Brady Kienitz, Gustavus

The junior guard scored 20 points once in the first 19 games this season, but he reached that mark for the fourth time in February with a career-high 30 points in the double OT win vs. Carleton.

Jax Madson, Bethany Lutheran

The junior guard led the Vikings with 27 points and eight rebounds to be named UMAC men's tourney MVP last weekend after a 77-58 win in the championship game vs. Wisconsin-Superior.

Sara Scalia, Indiana

The former Gophers guard had 25 points in the 88-69 upset at home against Caitlin Clark's Iowa team last Thursday. She already broke the Hoosiers' single-season three-point record.

Numbers game

13,000 Career points plateau achieved by Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns in last week's game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

2,000 Career points milestone for St. Cloud Tech's Tameron Ferguson, who leads the state in scoring with nearly 36 points per game this season.

46 Career-high points scored by Dakota County Technical College sophomore Manny Montgomery last week vs. Ellsworth, his fifth straight game with at least 30 points.

43 Combined points scored by Minnetonka's Aaliyah Crump and Lanelle Wright in a 64-61 win last week against Class 4A No. 1 Hopkins, the Royals' first league loss.

39 Number of years since Hamline played for the MIAC playoff title before Bradley Cimperman's buzzer-beating three last week to upset top-seeded Saint John's 83-80 on the road in the semis.

14 Consecutive wins for East Ridge boys after Wednesday's 74-72 win vs. Totino-Grace behind Gophers target Cedric Tomes' 36 points.

10 Finalists for the Minnesota Mr. Basketball Award, including Isaac Asuma (Gophers signee), Daniel Freitag and Jack Robison (Wisconsin), Jackson McAndrew (Creighton), Isaiah Johnson-Arigu (Miami) and Cash Chavis (Washington).

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Basketball Across Minnesota will be published weekly on Don't be a stranger on X after reading — chatting about these stories makes them even more fun to share. Thanks, Marcus (@Marcus_R_Fuller on X).