The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

March 9, 2013

MSU women's win streak ends in Northern Sun championship game

ROCHESTER — Go into the postseason on a long winning streak or get a reminder of what can happen if you don’t play well?

There’s no magic way to get ready for the NCAA tournament so Minnesota state will have to settle for going to the next level on a loss.

“We’d like to have momentum behind us, and we’d love to be cutting down the nets,” coach Emilee Thiesse said. “But we didn’t win, and we have to go right back to work and learn from this experience so we can move forward.”

Augustana finished stronger than the Mavericks, winning the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament championship game 81-73 Saturday. The loss ends the Mavericks’ 14-game winning streak.

“Augustana has a great team, and we have a lot of respect for that program,” Thiesse said. “They’ve got shooters, and good posts, and you never feel comfortable against them.”

Minnesota State rushed its offense in the first 10 minutes, and for the first time in a long while, the Mavericks were struggling. Trailing 28-20 at the 8-minute mark, the Mavericks finally got some traction.

Ali Hoefer’s 3-pointer closed the gap to 30-28 with 5:05 left in the half, and Steffaney Thomas’ 3-pointer with 5 second remaining put the Mavericks back on top.

But Emily Schulte tossed one in from about 55 feet that gave Augustana the 43-41 lead at halftime.

“It was a fast-paced game, and I think we rushed a little bit in the first half,” junior Ali Wilkinson said. “They just put together more runs than us.”

The second half was filled with scoring runs. The Mavericks had an 11-0 burst to go up 54-48, then Augustana answered with six straight. Later, Augustana had another 12-point run to go up 66-59, but the Mavericks came back with eight consecutive points for a one-point lead with six minutes to play.

However, Augustana had the final rally, outscoring the Mavericks 15-6 the rest of the way.

“It was the same things we’ve been talking about for a long time,” Thiesse said. “We scored enough points, it was the defense. Offensive rebounds, turnovers that turned into points … those things finally hurt us. I thought in the first half, we had a lot of individual players thinking they had to make individual plays instead of trusting their teammates.”

Karlee Gengenbacher scored 19 points to pace Minnesota State, while Wilkinson had 15 points and eight rebounds. Thomas ended up with 13 points, and Jamie Bresnahan had 10 points off the bench.

“I have no concern at all,” Thiesse said. “We’re not disappointed. We know we have a good team, and we’re going to have to come back this week in practice and fight.”

Minnesota State and Augustana are both likely to be invited to the national tournament, though that annoucement won’t be made until 9 p.m. today.

“We’re going to have to pick it up in practice this week,” Wilkinson said. “Now, it’s one loss and you’re done.”

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