Women’s basketball delivers first conference title in school history

The Minnesota State women’s basketball team defeated the University of Mary 89-74 in the final of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and got the Mavericks their first conference title in program history Tuesday. 

The Mavericks completed their redemption arc after losing in the NSIC Championship game to the University of Minnesota-Duluth last season. 

This time round, the Mavs’ path to the championship included a 101-74 win over Minnesota State University Moorhead in the quarterfinals, and a 88-72 victory over Southwest Minnesota State University in the semifinals. 

Drowning out the outside noise was part of the team’s mindset throughout the tournament. 

“Our key to staying focused was staying true to ourselves and having that be our motivation. We talked a lot about drowning out the outside noise and focusing more on each other and playing to our standards. We were very locked into us, and just having fun while we were there,” said Mavericks guard Natalie Bremer. 

The NSIC Championship game opened up as a tightly contested battle between the Mavs and the Marauders. The game started off with a corner three-point shot by Destinee Bursch. The Marauders responded by getting a couple of buckets to take a 4-3 lead. Bursch helped the Mavs regain the lead after assisting a Joey Batt reverse layup on a fast break. 

Later on in the quarter, the Mavs trailed by three before Bursch knocked down another three-pointer to tie the game up at 11. The quarter went on to have six lead changes in a four minute span. In the final seconds of the opening quarter, Emily Russo grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back up and in to give the Mavs a 23-21 lead at the end of one.

The second quarter started with a layup by Moriku Hakim to tie the game up for the Marauders. After very little separated both sides for large parts of the first two quarters, the Mavs created some separation between themselves and the Marauders by going on an 11-0 run. Their run was capped off with a three by Mackenzie Schweim. With 2:16 left in the quarter, the Mavs led 44-29. A turn around jumper by Delaynie Luneckas would give the Mavs a 47-33 lead at halftime. 

In the first half, the Mavs shot 44% from the field, made five of 13 three-point attempts and made six free throws. MSU forced the Marauders to commit 19 first-half turnovers, while committing just three of their own. 

The Marauders went on a 6-0 run early in the third quarter to cut the Mavs’ lead to nine. Buckets by Emily Herzberg and Ava Stier halted the Marauders’ attempt to further cut into the Mavericks’ lead. A layup by Lexie Schneider for the Marauders would be the last score in the quarter with over two minutes left. The Mavs went into the final quarter up 63-53.

The fourth quarter began with a three-pointer by Herzberg to jumpstart a 11-2 run by the Mavericks. The Marauders got a three of their own with six minutes left to cut their deficit to 78-62, but the Mavs would see out the rest of the game on their way to winning the conference title. 

MSU ended the game shooting 44% from the field, going six for 19 from three-point range and making 19 of 23 free throws. The Mavs forced the Marauders to commit 32 turnovers, which led to them scoring 46 points off those turnovers. 

The Mavs had five different players score in the double digits. Batt led the MSU in scoring with 16 points. She also had five assists and three steals. Bursch had 14 points, Herzberg had 13 and Bremer had 10 points, two steals and a block. 

A point of emphasis in the championship game was to try to prevent some of the Marauders’ key players from getting into their flow.

“In the final, UMary had multiple key players in their starting lineup and our focus was to take them out of their flow as much as possible. Lexie Schneider, was one they would for sure look to. She was the Offensive Player of the Year, so we knew we had to take her out of what she likes to do. I think overall we handled our game plan very well, none of their top players seemed to be playing comfortably. We also talk about how our offensive flow will come and our defense really allowed us to get rolling offensively in that game,” Bremer said. 

Despite bringing MSU its first conference title, the team believes that they are capable of much more. 

“Just the heart and focus from this team was unmatched, and was a great experience for us all and we know that we are capable of much more with the season not being done yet,” Bremer said. 

Header Photo: The Minnesota State women’s basketball team have been named the seventh seed in the 2024 NCAA Division II Central Region Tournament. (Courtesy Maverick Athletics)

Write to Mohamed Warsame at

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