Mavs make Final Four by surviving the Hurricanes

The Minnesota State women’s basketball team outlasted Georgia Southwestern State 93-88 in a hard-fought victory Monday to punch its ticket to the DII Final Four — its first Final Four berth since the 2008-09 season.   

With the win, the fifth-seeded Mavericks will face the eighth-seeded Cal St. San Marcos 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. If they win that game, they’ll play the winner of the other national semifinal: either Texas Women’s or Ferris State.

The Mavericks’ first Elite Eight game in 15 years began with a jump shot made by Natalie Bremer after the Mavs won the opening tip. 

The Hurricanes scored their first points of the game on their first possession after Kayla Langley got an offensive rebound and put it home after Destiny Garrett’s missed jumper. 

Joey Batt, who led the Mavs in scoring their last time out in the NCAA Central Region Tournament Championship game with 28 points, got herself on the scoreboard with a pair of free throws just over a minute into the game. The Mavs forced a turnover on the Hurricanes’ next possession thanks to a steal by Emily Herzberg, which resulted in a layup by Destinee Bursch to give the Mavs an early 6-2 lead.  

Over the next four minutes of the quarter, GSW went on a 13-4 run and had a 15-10 lead with 3:51 left in the first. A pair of free throws by Batt and Herzberg pulled the Mavs to within one point of the Hurricanes. With 2:50 left in the quarter, a three-pointer by Bremer tied the game at 17. The Mavs went on to outscore GSW 7-4 for the remainder of the quarter, including another three made by Bremer, to give them a 24-21 lead at the end of one. 

Scoring in the second quarter was kicked off by a jumper by Bursch to extend MSU’s lead to 26-21. After the two teams traded getting points over the next few minutes, the Hurricanes took over at about the halfway point of the quarter. 

With 4:04 left in the second, GSW’s Kayhla Adams made a three to give the Hurricanes the 36-35 lead. This sparked a 16-4 run by the Hurricanes, and their lead was 49-39 with 1:43 remaining in the half. 

A quick 5-0 run due to a three-pointer by Batt and a second-chance layup by Ava Stier quelled the Hurricanes momentum before the game got out of hand for the Mavs. 

GSW’s Adams made a three with five seconds left in the half, and at the end of two the Hurricanes had a 52-45 lead. 

After trailing going into the half, the Mavs came out swinging in the third. In the first minute of the quarter, a jumper by Batt and layup by Emily Russo cut the Hurricanes’ lead to 3. This jump started a 14-2 run for the Mavs over the next four and a half minutes. 

The Mavs regained the lead and the score was 55-54 after a layup by Russo with 7:14 left in the third. MSU then extended their lead to 59-54 after buckets by Russo and Batt. 

The Hurricanes responded to the haymakers the Mavs were throwing by going on a 9-0 run in a two-minute span and regained the lead 69-65 with 1:03 left in the quarter. Batt got a three-point play after she was fouled on a layup. MSU went into the final quarter trailing 71-68. 

Bursch got the first score of the fourth quarter after she got an and-one layup following a turnover by the Hurricanes. This tied things up at 71. Stier’s jumpshot put the Mavs up again after a turnover by the Hurricanes, but GSW’s Garrett tied things back up at 73 almost immediately. 

Both teams went back for over the next couple of minutes to set up a nail biting finish. With 3:30 left in the game, GSW’s Lexi McCully knocked down a three-pointer and gave the Hurricanes their first lead since the opening minute of the fourth, and the score was 80-79. 

The Mavs led 84-82 with under two minutes left to play before GSW’s McCully and Herzberg traded threes and MSU’s lead was now 87-85 with 1:14 left in the game.

After free throws made by Batt and Russo in the final minute, the Mavs were up 90-85 with 31 seconds left. The Mavs held on to advance to the Final Four. 

As a team, the Mavs shot 42.5% from the field, 32.1% from three and made 22 of 32 free throws. 

Batt led the way in scoring for MSU with 21 points. She also got six assists and four rebounds in 39 minutes played. 

Header Photo: The Minnesota State women’s basketball team will take on Cal St. San Marcos 7:30 p.m. Wednesday with a chance to advance to the NCAA DII Championship. (Courtesy Maverick Athletics)

Write to Mohamed Warsame at

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