Women’s basketball within one game of first round bye in NSIC Tournament

The Minnesota State women’s basketball team who came into this weekend’s matchups 16-5 overall and 12-5 in the NSIC completed a successful weekend against Wayne State and Augustana. 

Sophomore guard Joey Batt got things rolling for the Mavs on Friday night with a driving layup 50 seconds in. The first five minutes saw back and forth action as both teams were able to convert off key opportunities. 

Senior forward Tayla Stuttley would gain a hot hand late in the first quarter draining three shots in a row. Minnesota State would lead 20-10 heading into the second quarter.

Wayne State’s Logan Hughes would open the scoring in the second frame. Moments later, the Mavs would take control and go on a 15-2 scoring run. A dominant second quarter had MSU up 48-29 going into the second half of play.

The Mavericks would once again see a large scoring run to open the quarter, going on a 10-3 run. Wayne State, however, was able to keep up with the Mavericks for much of the third quarter, only being outscored 22-20 and heading into the final frame down 70-49. 

Sophomore Ali Hunstad opened the scoring for MSU in the fourth after a slick feed from senior Maddy Olson. Scoring never slowed down for the Mavs as they ran away with the game by a final score of 95-58. 

Sophomore standout Joey Batt was extremely impressed by her team’s defense in Friday’s game, which scored 33 points off of turnovers. “Our defense always clicks, it always gets people on their toes. I feel like they never really know what to do with our pressure,” Batt said. 

Saturday Afternoon’s affair against Augustana would prove to be a much tighter game than the day before. The Mavericks would open up the scoring with points from Batt and Olson. Augustana would answer quickly, going on an 11-2 scoring run.

Freshman guard Molly Ihle would drain a three pointer with 4 minutes remaining to regain the lead for the Mavericks at 15-3. The Vikings would respond, however, and would carry a 21-17 lead heading into the second quarter. 

MSU would open the second quarter going on a 7-0 scoring run that would see them regain the lead. Augustana would not go away easy, tying the game up at 28 with nearly four minutes remaining in  the quarter. 

The Mavericks would create separation by draining multiple threes in the closing minutes. They carried a 36-29 lead heading into the third quarter.

Mankato would control much of the third frame and opened with an 11-0 scoring run. Senior Maddy Olson would convert a three pointer which gave the Mavs their largest lead of the game at 15. Continued pressure would have Minnesota State up 62-54 going into the fourth.

Augustana would open the quarter with three points, cutting the Mavs’ lead to six. The fourth quarter would see back and forth action for the first five minutes. However, continued pressure and solid defense carried the Mavericks to a 80-72 win. 

With the Minnesota State’s wins Friday and Saturday, they have moved one game closer to a first round bye in the playoffs and are two wins shy of the 20 win mark, a feat they haven’t accomplished since 2014. 

Head coach Emilee Thiesse stressed the importance of having the first round bye. “It’s been a while since we’ve been in that position,” Thiesse said. “Getting that first round bye is huge because it shows the effort we put on the floor.”

The Mavericks will travel to take on Upper Iowa in Fayette on Feb. 17 with tip off scheduled at 5:30 p.m. They will then return home to the Taylor Center to take on Winona State for the final game of the regular season. Tip off for Winona State is scheduled for Feb. 19 at 1:30 p.m.

Header photo: Sophomore guard Joey Batt (1) scored 17 points while collecting three rebounds and eight assists in the Mavericks’ game against Wayne State on Friday. Batt leads the Mavs in scoring per game while they near the NSIC tourney. (Emily Lansman/The Reporter)

Write to Karson Buelow at karson.buelow@mnsu.edu.

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