Women’s basketball falls to Duluth in NSIC tournament semifinals, await NCAA bid

The Minnesota State women’s basketball team traveled west to Sioux Falls, SD to compete in the NSIC tournament this past weekend. The eighth ranked Mavericks came into the weekend with a 20-5 overall record and 15-5 in the NSIC throughout the regular season. 

The Mavs opened the tournament against Southwest Minnesota State with the teams splitting the regular season series 1-1. 

MSU opened the game with a 7-0 scoring run started by senior forward Mikayla Nachazel. The Mavericks continued to add offensive pressure, taking a commanding 32-12 lead after the first quarter. Minnesota State shot 62.5% from the field during the opening frame.

The Mavs and Mustangs traded back to back shots for the opening three minutes of the second quarter. MSU found scoring from 12 different players in the first half and led by as much as 26 points. Minnesota State led 49-25 heading into the second half.

The relentless Mavericks pressure would not slow down as they began their scoring with a 7-0 run. Both teams would go on multiple smaller scoring runs of their own during the third quarter, with the Mavs continuing to control. 

With nearly 15 seconds remaining, junior forward Carah Drees would give the Mavs their highest lead of the game at 32 points. MSU led Southwest Minnesota State 76-46 after the third quarter.

The Mustangs saw good offensive pressure during the fourth quarter, outscoring the Mavericks 19-13. The Mavs would not give in as they never allowed their lead to drop below 20 points. MSU walked away with the game by a final score of 89-65.

As a team, the Mavericks shot 45.7% from the field and accumulated 34 points from their bench. The Mavs defense also shined putting up 22 steals and 35 points off of turnovers. 

With their win against Southwest Minnesota State, Minnesota State advanced to the semifinals against the third-ranked Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs. The Mavericks and Bulldogs played onced earlier this season with UMD taking the game by a score of 61-52.

MSU opened the game with a 7-0 run started by a Nachazel layup. Duluth would respond with a 12-4 scoring run of their own to take a 12-11 lead. The final two minutes of the first quarter would see back and forth action, but UMD was able to take a 17-15 lead heading into the second.

The first three minutes of the second quarter saw the Bulldogs and Mavericks trade shots, with neither team setting up good pressure. Duluth ended the quarter hitting three shots in a row and took a 32-26 lead into halftime. 

The Mavericks got out to a quick 6-0 scoring run in the third quarter, tying the game up at 32, but a layup by senior forward Brooke Olson would have UMD up by four points with nearly a minute remaining in the quarter. The Mavs would not shy away as freshman and senior guards Destinee Bursch and Maddy Olson both hit jumpers to tie the game 47-47 heading into the final frame. 

Senior guard Rylee Menster opened the scoring for the Mavericks in the fourth quarter with a layup. The Bulldogs would answer back with a 7-0 scoring run to regain the lead. 

With 1:35 left, the game would be tied at 62 as Menster would drain two clutch free throws. Three different Bulldogs would combine to bring UMD a 66-62 lead with 40 seconds left. 

Minnesota State and Minnesota Duluth would trade baskets for the remaining 40 seconds. It was too little too late for the Mavericks as they fell to the Bulldogs by a score of 66-69. The semifinal game between Duluth and Mankato saw 7 lead changes and 11 ties.

The Mavericks will await to see if they will be selected to participate in the 2022 NCAA DII women’s basketball tournament where the 68 teams will be selected March 13 at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

Header Photo: With the Mavericks’ 66-69 loss to Duluth on Monday the team will now await the selection show to know if they make the NCAA DII tournament. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)

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

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