The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 25, 2013

MSU women pull out scrappy victory

MANKATO — Fittingly, the key sequence started with a missed shot.

But Ashley Olson didn’t stop playing, and over the last 1:30, the Minnesota State sophomore made several key plays.

“We knew we had to win with our defense,” Olson said. “That was our main focus all game.”

Ali Wilkinson had 19 points and 12 rebounds, her sixth double-double of the season, and Jamie Bresnahan scored 14 points as Minnesota State defeated Wayne State 61-58 in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference women’s basketball game Friday at Bresnan Arena.

But it was little things Olson, the smallest player on the court who scored only seven points, was able to accomplish in the final minute that led to the hard-fought victory.

“I think our leadership showed tonight,” coach Emilee Thiesse said. “We knew the shots would start falling, and we’d stop making turnovers. We just kept fighting.”

There were some dreadful stretches of offensive basketball, but for the most part, the teams struggled at the same time. The Mavericks led 4-2 after 10 minutes, shooting 11.8 percent compared to Wayne State’s 9.1 percent.

Minnesota State had a 13-point lead with with five minutes remaining in the first half, while Wayne State’s first lead came at 56-55 with 2:35 to play.

The Mavericks regained the lead for good on Ali Wilkinson’s layup, but the margin was one as Minnesota State took over with 1:20 to play. Olson took a quick 3-pointer, but she didn’t give up, making a steal at midcourt.

Jameila converted the turnover into a basket by feeding Olson for the layup. She then forced a turnover on the inbounds pass to regain possession, up three.

“We just knew we had to persevere,” Olson said. “We just kept focusing on defense.”

The Mavericks weren’t able to score, but 30 seconds of the best defense of the game forced Wayne State into a wild 3-point attempt at the buzzer, and the Mavericks pulled out the victory.

“We threw that zone at them to throw them off a little bit,” Thiesse said. “Wayne is so good at executing that we did something different.”

Minnesota State, which has won eight straight home games, (13-4, 9-4 in Northern Sun) hosts Augustana at 4 p.m. today.

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