After two successful weekends at home, the No. 14 Minnesota State Women’s Basketball team hits the road once again in what may be their most critical weekend yet. Over the past two weeks, Mankato has played four home games where they won them all. Now, they have their eyes set on long bus rides to two different states where the stakes are higher than ever.
Saturday’s game is of utmost importance as they travel to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to take on the Augustana Vikings. The Vikings currently lead the NSIC Southern division, despite them having the same 15-3 conference record as Mankato. Both teams have three losses on the season but Augustana has a higher win percentage as they have 21 wins on the season overall, while the Mavs have 19.
The teams already faced off once at the Taylor Center and it ended with Mankato winning in a blowout. MSU’s core duo of Joey Batt and Destinee Bursch led the team to victory as they both posted 20 points. The game ended 84-69 and since then, Augustana has only lost one game and has been on a nine-game win streak. One of these wins was against the undefeated Duluth Bulldogs who are currently leading the conference.
The Mavericks need to hone in their skills and come prepared to Sioux Falls if they want to come away with a win. Augustana is currently undefeated at home and their head coach, Dave Krauth, just earned the WhoopDirt.com Coach of the Week honor. Krauth is the only NSIC coach to earn this award. To add to their accomplishments, star player, Aislinn Duffy, was just crowned NSIC Player of the Week after scoring her career-high 35 points against Upper Iowa Saturday.
These two teams are playing at their best and the game will most likely come down to the winner of the South division. This will likely mean a home court advantage in the playoffs, as well.
As important as beating Augustana is, the Mavericks cannot overlook their Friday opponent. MSU travels to Wayne, Nebraska first to face off against Wayne State. Wayne State is currently 7-11 in NSIC play and sits near the bottom of the conference.
Earlier in the season, the Mavs almost hit triple digits for the second time in the year versus the Wildcats. Mankato breezed past Wayne St. and took the victory with ease, 98-59. This time, the Mavs will have to travel four hours to play on the Wildcats’ home court where they may be hungry for revenge.
Mankato need to stay sharp and on their toes this weekend if they want to have the best South division record. With only four games remaining in the season, the Mavs are looking to continue their win streak and win out the rest of the games.
Write to Luke Jackson at Luke.Jackson2@mnsu.edu
Header photo: The MSU Women’s Basketball team aims to extend their winning streak as they play away against Wayne State Friday, Feb. 10 and Augustana Saturday, Feb. 11. (Dylan Engel)