The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

December 1, 2012

Wilkinson back in prime form for MSU women

MANKATO — Almost exactly one year ago, Minnesota State’s Ali Wilkinson suffered a season-ending knee injury that may have threatened her basketball career.

On Saturday, in her team’s Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference women’s basketball opener, Wilkinson showed that she’s at full strength.

“I’m really happy,” Wilkinson said after scoring 22 points in the Mavericks’ 85-66 victory over Concordia-St. Paul at Bresnan Arena. “Coming off an injury like that, we’re 4-0. That’s the best way we can get started.”

Wilkinson said she had a few setbacks in her summer rehab, but she feels good now.

“I hurt my right knee (in high school), and I came back strong,” she said. “I haven’t had any problems with my left knee.”

The game turned late in the first half as the Mavericks outscored the Bears 27-11 over the final eight minutes. Wilkinson had 11 points in the run, scoring from the lane, 3-point line and free-throw stripe.

“We needed to lock down on defense,” Wilkinson said. “When we play defense with intensity, that allows us to run and have fun. We play our best when we’re having fun.”

The Mavericks scored the first eight points of the second half and were never threatened. Wilkinson made 8 of 12 shots, including 1 of 2 from 3-point range, and 5 of 7 on free throws. She also had seven rebounds.

Karlee Gengenbacher had 14 points and six rebounds and Jamie Bresnahan had 12 points and six rebounds. Jamiela Hudnell had 10 points off the bench.

The Mavericks shot 51.5 percent from the field, making 8 of 21 from 3-point range.

“I thought we took one step tonight,” coach Emilee Thiesse said. “Our defensive intensity was not where we needed it to be. We want to be the team that dictates with our defense. We gave up too many good looks and we still fouled too much.”

The Mavericks (4-0, 1-0 in Northern Sun) are home again Friday against Winona State.

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