Mavericks get revenge for NCAA Championship

The Minnesota State women’s basketball team defeated Texas Woman’s University 89-73 in the NCAA Division II Championship game Friday.

The Mavericks are crowned national champions for the second time in the program’s history. The first time being in the 2008-09 season. 

Head coach Emilee Thiesse expressed how big of a role the leaders on the team had this season.

“I cannot express how proud of this basketball team I am. This leadership. I feel like I had the easiest job in the world this year. I could take a back seat and watch this group take the lead and set the tone. I could just go on and on about what this team has done,” Thiesse said in the postgame press conference. 

The Mavs journey to the NCAA Championship included beating Georgia Southwestern State University 93-88 in the Elite Eight and squeaking by Cal State San Marcos 70-68 thanks to a go-ahead bucket by Emily Herzberg with 0.3 second in the Final Four. 

After a couple of grueling and nail biting games, the Mavs put their foot on the Pioneers’ neck early and never looked back in the national title game. 

Joey Batt got MSU their first points of the game with a jump shot. Herzberg then hit a pair of free throws to give the Mavs their first lead of the game at 4-2. 

This was when the Mavs seized control of the game. Over the next few minutes of the first quarter, MSU went on a 13-3 run. During this stretch, Mackenzie Schweim, Natalie Bremer and Batt knocked down consecutive three-pointers to put the Mavs lead to 13-5. MSU’s run was extended following a steal and score by Bremer and a shot made by Destinee Bursch. 

At around the halfway point of the opening quarter, the Mavs had a 17-5 lead before the Pioneers called a timeout. Schweim added another three-pointer in the quarter, and the Mavs were up 26-13 at the end of one. 

In the second quarter, the Pioneers clawed their way back into the game a bit and brought the Mavs’ lead back to single-digits. The Mavs responded with a three-pointer by Bursch and forced Texas Woman’s to commit a hat-trick of turnovers. 

The game was a lot tighter in the second period as the Mavs outscored the Pioneers 20-19. A huge chunk of Texas Woman’s points came from the free throw line, where they went nine for nine. Despite this, MSU went into the halftime break up 46-32.

In the first half, the Mavs shot 39% from the field, made six of 13 three-point attempts and went eight for 10 from the foul line. MSU also forced the Pioneers to commit 11 first-half turnovers, while committing two themselves. 

Bremer carried a significant part of the scoring load in the first half with 16 points. She did this on six of 12 shots.  

The third quarter was where the Mavs quelled any hope that TWU had of making a comeback. Herzberg made two three-pointers early in the quarter to extend the Mavs’ lead to 59-38. Later on in the third, Bremer made a three of her own during a fast-break to put the score at 66-45. 

MSU then went on a 6-0 run over the last three minutes of the third quarter to give themselves a 72-48 cushion, and essentially one hand on the trophy. 

The fourth quarter was MSU’ worse by a mile, but the damage was done over the first three. TWU outscored them 25-17. This includes a six-minute period where the Mavs were held without a field goal. This stretch allowed the Pioneers to mount a late rally where they cut MSU’s lead to 10 with two minutes left in the game. 

Hannah Herzig knocked down a three-pointer to end the Mavs’ field-goal drought and put an end to TWU’s comeback attempt. 

The Mavs ended the game shooting 41.4% from the field, making 10 of 23 three-point attempts and going 21 for 28 from the charity stripe. 

Bremer led the way for the Mavs in scoring with 27 points. She was also named NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. 

“I don’t think the championship has fully sunk in, but it feels amazing to have reached something so special with such a great group. It’s so unbelievable to have gotten to something that we have worked all year for and to end our season on such a high note,” Bremer said.

MSU lost to the Pioneers in November, but were able to use the experience of that matchup to their advantage when it mattered most. 

“Playing them earlier in the season allowed us to know what they would be looking to do and we came out and executed our game plan just how we wanted to,” Bremer said. 

Header Photo: After Friday’s win in the NCAA Division II Championship game, the Mavericks have completed the trifecta of being crowned NSIC Champions, NCAA Central Region Champions and NCAA Champions this season. (Dylan Long/The Reporter)

Write to Mohamed Warsame at

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