The Taylor Center has been the place to be for Maverick basketball, as their two home games, the Mavericks women’s and men’s basketball teams have dominated their opponents. The women’s basketball team had their turn Monday, defeating the North Central Rams 110-68.
The Minnesota State Women’s Basketball team opened their season at home Monday against the Rams. According to the NSIC preseason poll, the Mavs are picked to finish first in their conference.
The 0-1 Rams are a part of the Division III Upper Midwest Athletic Conference and coached by a first year Leah Szabla. Despite their differences, the first quarter remained relatively close. The Mavs came out playing fast and aggressive, as their full court press gave the Rams headaches early and often. Contrary to their evident struggles, the Rams managed to slow the Mavs down in the first, with the score sitting at 20-13 heading into the second period.
As soon as the whistle blew to begin the second period, the Mavericks caught fire. In their first possession, sophomore guard Emily Herzberg, knocked down the first of her three shots from beyond the arc, bringing the Mavs their first double digit lead of the night, 28-17.
After a few back and forth blows from each team, freshman guard Mackenzie Schweim, gave the Mavs the momentum boost they needed. Schweim scored five straight points to bring the score to 39-20, forcing a timeout from the Lions with 3:12 left in the first half. The timeout didn’t seem to phase The Mavs at all, finishing the half strong and pushing their lead out to 22 points, 47-25.
“After the first, we all came together and decided that we had a lot more left in the tank, and also we just wanted to have fun with it,” said MSU junior guard, Joey Batt.
The third quarter proved to be the turning point. Batt showed why she was a 2021 First Team All NSIC and 2020 NSIC South Division Defensive Player of the Year, providing defensive pressure that led to turnovers and points. Sophomore guard Destinee Bursch and Batt orchestrated an 11-0 run for the Mavs that was only briefly interrupted by a layup from Kaitlyn VanderPloeg of the Rams. Before they knew it, the Mavs held a near 40 point lead midway through the third. A three from freshman Hannah Herzig seemed to slam the door on this game, and a 35-6 third quarter in favor of the Mavs brought a score of 82-31 heading into the final period.
“I feel like our identity is defense. The full court pressure we bring is not easy, so seeing the results of our hard work pay off feels really good,” said Batt.
It was more of the same in the fourth period, with Herzberg hitting a three-pointer and Bursch scoring on a fast break in back to back possessions to open the quarter. A pair of free throws by freshman Ava Stier put the Mavs in triple figures as they closed out the game. In a 68-point blowout with a final score of 110-42, the Mavs dominated the Lions en route to their first win of the season.
Herzberg led all scorers with 19 points on 7-13 shooting in just 15 minutes of play. Batt filled up the stat sheet as well, with 18 points, 4 rebounds 5 assists and 4 steals in her season debut. Bursch added 16 points and was one of four players with 4 or more steals. With their defensive intensity, the Mavs forced 44 turnovers out of the Lions. Mavs head coach Emilie Theisse credited the success to a lot of repetition and hard work in practice.
“Everything starts from our defense, and we let the offense take care of itself,” said Theisse. “When we have chemistry on the defensive end, that’s also how we play on the offensive end, in-sync.”
Following their home opener, the Mavs head to Hays, Kan. to take on Fort Hays State. The last time these two teams met, the Tigers ended the Mavs’ season in the 2021 NCAA Tournament. Tip-off for these two teams is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 18.
Header Photo: Minnesota State Women’s basketball team premiered their first game of the season at the Taylor Center against North Central Monday, Nov. 14 winning 110-42. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)
Write to Hayden Lee at Hayden.Lee@mnsu.edu