The postseason has finally arrived and the Minnesota State Women’s Basketball team will be traveling to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to play in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament. They earned themselves the No.1 seed in the south division, meaning a first-round bye. The Mavericks will be setting their focus on the Wayne State versus University of Mary game as they play the decider in the second round.
MSU ended their season on a nine-game win streak which they will be looking to expand into the postseason. If the Mavs want to continue their reign in the NSIC and win the tournament, they will have to win three games. These games are, Saturday’s game versus the winner of the Wayne St./UMary game, the semifinals Monday and lastly, the finals game Tuesday. The winner of the tournament will get a guaranteed trip to the NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament.
“From here on out our record is 0-0,” said Coach Emilee Thiesse. “Everyone is here playing for something and we just have to take it one game and one day at a time.”
Looking ahead to Saturday, the Mavs already have both Wayne State’s and UMary’s numbers. MSU has played Wayne State twice and Umary once. All three resulted in wins for the Mavericks. Whichever team ends up taking on the Mavs will have a lot to focus on.
In all three wins for MSU against these teams, the Mavs had four players notch double-digit points. Freshman Natalie Bremer has exposed both of these teams throughout the year. Bremer put up 26 points on 83 percent shooting the last time they played Wayne State. She also put up 21 points in the first game versus Wayne State and another 21 in the outing against UMary.
Additionally, Joey Batt put up 22 points against UMary, and Destinee Bursch found herself with 20 in the first win over Wayne State.
“That’s what makes our team so hard to prepare for and scout against,” said Thiesse. “We have so many different weapons on our team. We can put any set of players out there and be able to get a punch out of them.”
Whoever takes on the Mavericks Saturday will have other situations to overcome that MSU does not have to face. The first-round bye may be a big advantage down the line.
“The first round bye is huge for us,” said Thiesse. “A lot of other teams have to set another prep day, they have to worry about one extra huge game and lastly, the weather will be affecting their travels.”
In blizzard-like conditions, eight teams across the NSIC will have to travel in order to play in the first round, Wednesday. This will be taxing to teams in the first round that have to endure the weather and play an extra game, all before hitting the road once again to go to Sioux Falls for the remainder of the tournament.
If the Mavs progress to the semifinals and finals, the one thing that could keep them in contention will be their hard-hitting press defense. In MSU’s game versus UMary, they forced 45 turnovers and capitalized that into 48 points.
This defense has been improving throughout the year and it has been the biggest contribution to their success.
“Our defense is who we are and is what has allowed us to be in every single game,” said Thiesse.
The Mavericks are currently averaging 26.8 turnovers which, on average, turns into 28.6 points. The defense is led by Batt who has 81 steals on the season. She has more steals than anyone in the NSIC and has the sixth most in NSIC play.
With weapons across the board, terrible weather and extra games for other teams, the future is bright for the Mavericks. The classic saying “defense wins championships” could deem true.
Write to Luke Jackson at Luke.Jackson.email@example.com
Header Photo: The MSU Women’s Basketball team aims to continue the win streak in round two of the NSIC Tournament as they compete against either UMary or Wayne State Saturday, Feb. 25. (Dylan Long)