The Minnesota State women’s basketball team completed a historic weekend with matchups against Upper Iowa and Winona State. The Mavericks came into this weekend with a record of 18-5 overall and 14-5 in the NSIC.
The Upper Iowa Peacocks got off to a hot start against the Mavericks putting up 4 points quickly. MSU sophomore guard Joey Batt would answer with a three-ball that would lead to back-and-forth action for the next four minutes.
Redshirt sophomore Jessica Musgrave would start a 6-0 scoring run for Upper Iowa with a layup in the paint. This scoring run would see the Peacocks up by five points with a little over four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
MSU would respond with an 11-0 scoring run of their own highlighted by back-to-back three-pointers from freshman guard Emily Herzberg. The Mavericks would own a 20-14 lead heading into the second quarter.
Upper Iowa pushed to add pressure starting the second quarter, but Minnesota State would respond with pressure of their own. The first three minutes would see back-and-forth action before the Mavs opened up the scoring.
Sophomore guard Taylor Theusch converted a jumper that would ignite a 12-0 scoring run for Minnesota State and have them up by 16 points with just over two minutes left in the half. The Mavericks allowed just five points in the final six minutes and led 43-27 going into the second half.
Both teams converted on key opportunities through the first five minutes of the third quarter as the Mavericks controlled their lead. However, the Mavericks dominated the final five of the third period with a 13-1 scoring run and building a 27-point lead.
Upper Iowa created good offensive pressure in the fourth quarter, however, solid defense saw the Mavericks holding a dominant lead. Minnesota State’s lead never got below 19 points and they finished strong with a convincing 91-67 win over Upper Iowa.
With their win against Upper Iowa, the Mavericks clinched the NSIC South regular season championship.
Head coach Emilee Thiesse stressed the importance of obtaining the first round bye heading into playoffs. “It’s a huge benefit to be in that spot,” Thiesse said. “Teams that have that extra game have a shorter turnaround. It puts us in a really good spot right now.”
Saturday afternoon’s contest against Winona State began with Minnesota State honoring their five seniors for their history with the program, which consisted of Maddy Olson, Rylee Menster, Tayla Stuttley, Jinda Guidinger, and Mikayla Nachazel
The Mavericks and Warriors got into a tough back-and-forth battle to open the game. Late in the first quarter, Batt would drain back-to-back shots to give the Mavs a 17-14 lead. A free throw by the Warriors would get them back to within two and would end the first quarter with the Mavericks up 17-15.
The Mavericks began to find consistent offense in the second quarter as Nachazel and Batt both found hot hands. Nachazel and Batt contributed a combined total of 11 points in the second as the Mavericks were up 39-24 at the end of the first half.
MSU continued to add to their lead opening up the third quarter with a 9-3 scoring run. Winona would respond with offense of their own, however, Minnesota State was able to match their offense and lead 62-38 heading into the final frame.
The Mavericks continued to control scoring for most of the fourth quarter, putting up 16 points in 8 minutes. Winona would provide a late push, but it was too little too late as Minnesota State took this game by a score of 78-55.
With this weekend’s wins, the Mavericks also eclipsed the 20-win mark for the fourth time in head coach Thiesse’s career. While Thiesse is proud of achieving 20 wins, she remains focused on the future for her team.
“We love being able to achieve great things in our program,” Thiesse said. “But 20 wins isn’t our goal, it’s about being in the NCAA tournament.”
Minnesota State will be back in action Feb. 26 at 7:00 p.m. at the Sanford Health Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. They will take on the winner of MSU-Moorhead and Southwest Minnesota State.
Header Photo: The Mavericks clinched the NSIC South Division on Thursday with their win over Upper Iowa. They also claimed their first 20-win regular season since 2014 with their win over Winona State on Saturday. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)
Write to Karson Buelow at firstname.lastname@example.org.