Mavericks rise under pressure
Minnesota State’s Women’s Basketball team propels their overall record to 19-3 due to their recent hot streak of five continuous wins. MSU hosted Southwest Minnesota State and Sioux Falls Friday and Saturday, winning both games.
The Mavs have now tied the series for the year against SMSU 1-1. The last time the Mavs played the Mustangs was back in December when Mankato was still undefeated. MSU traveled to Marshall, MN., and was handed their first loss as the final score was 85-88 with SMSU on top. In the loss, SMSU’s lead player, Sam Wall, put up 25 points.
Fast forward to Friday night and MSU was able to return the favor at the Taylor Center. In a closely fought game, Mankato was able to finish it out winning by 11 points with a final score of 81-70. In the win, the Mavs held Wall to nine points with a dreadful -23 plus-minus.
In the win, SMSU only found themselves in the lead twice, both times happening at the beginning of the first quarter. After this, Mankato held the lead for over 38 minutes. Despite this lead, the game remained close throughout its entirety. The only double-digit lead of the game came in the final seconds before the ending buzzer hit.
“We bought into our defense and they came up big when it became close,” said Head Coach Emilee Thiesse.
The game was a nail-biter through and through. The Mustang’s found themselves within one possession of the lead 26 times throughout the game and were never able to take it. Every time they came close MSU’s resilience shined and they were able to make a stop on defense or hit a big shot to distance the lead ever so slightly. For every point hit by the Mustangs, the Mavericks recorded their own.
“Turning our focus on what we can control instead of what they were doing was what helped us a lot in those high-pressure scenarios,” said junior guard, Joey Batt, “We focused on getting in the passing lanes to block passes and looked to create more ball pressure when things got close.”
Mankato’s defense came up big all night which resulted in 29 points converted off of turnovers which led them to victory. In fact, MSU dominated in most stat lines. Mankato had 13 more points created from turnovers, 13 more points from bench players, 18 more points in the paint and scored eight more points on fastbreaks.
One thing that SMSU did very well was taking advantage of the fouls. The refs were blowing the whistle on every little touch, resulting in 43 total fouls combined between the two teams. The Mustangs were able to hit 16 out of 20 free throws. Despite these points, the Mustangs couldn’t find any sort of lead and ultimately crumbled under the pressure.
On Saturday, the Mavericks faced Sioux Falls who are dead last in the NSIC. Mankato was able to beat them with ease with a final score of 71-61.
MSU opened up the game strong and posted a 27-14 lead at the end of the first quarter. In the second, the Mavs stayed consistent and held a double-digit lead the entire quarter. At half the score was 37-22.
Junior guard, Taylor Theusch, led the team throughout the half and scored 10 points hitting 80% of her shots. She continued to put the team on her back and finished the game-tying her personal best of 20 points.
From start to finish, MSU never lost the lead and Sioux Falls only tied the score once which occurred in the first minute of play. Overall, this was an opportunity for the Mavs to continue their win streak and stay on the top of the NSIC South as they are tied for first.
Header Photo: MSU Women’s Basketball team extends their win streak to five straight after defeating SMSU 81-70 Friday, Feb. 3 and 71-61 against Sioux Falls Saturday, Feb. 4. (Dylan Engel/The Reporter)
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