The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 26, 2013

Maverick women remain perfect at home

MANKATO — Early in the second half, Aubrey Davis took a charge, and while falling down, she banged the back of her head badly on the court. It looked like her day might be done.

But with 50 seconds to play, Davis was on the court, making a crucial 3-pointer in a critical game.

“I’ve hit my head hard like that a couple times before,” Davis said. “You get concerned every time. But I know I needed to get back in there for my team.”

Minnesota State closed the game with a 12-2 run and defeated Augustana 78-73 in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Collegiate women’s basketball game Saturday at Bresnan Arena. The victory moved the Mavericks into a tie for second place in the South Division, a game behind Concordia-St. Paul, and maintained a perfect record in nine home games.

“These wins this weekend were huge,” Davis said. “It keeps us in the top two in our division.”

The game was close throughout. The Mavericks led by nine early, but Augustana reversed that into a four-point lead in the next seven minutes.

Minnesota State led by six at halftime, but then went cold in the next 18 minutes, making only 8 of 29 shots. However, the game was tied at 69 with 1:53 to play.

“I told the girls before the game that these are the types of games you play for,” coach Emilee Thiesse said. “We’re starting to approach the make-or-break point of the season, and we had a chance to play a very good team at home. It’s exciting.”

Ali Wilkinson had a three-point play and two free throws to start the final push. Davis, who was 1 of 4 on 3-pointers in the second half, made a clutch 3 from the top of the key that gave the Mavericks a two-possession lead.

“I’m going to miss some 3s, but I knew I had to keep shooting for my team,” Davis said.

Davis then kept the ball in her hand for most of the last minute, converting four free throws to secure the important victory.

“She’s a playmaker,” Thiesse said. “She takes care of the ball, and she’s heady. We definitely want the ball in her hands against pressure.”

Wilkinson had 22 points, and Davis had 20 points and six assists. Jamie Bresnahan and Karlee Gengenbacher each scored 11. The Mavericks shot only 33.9 percent and were outrebounded by 13, but they made 17 steals with only 10 turnovers. The Mavericks also hit 31 of 33 free throws, while Augustana made 10 of 14.

Wilkinson was 10 of 10 at the line, while Davis was 8 of 9 and Gengenbacher was 7 of 8.

“I felt like (Augustana) might be a little fatigued from their game last night so we really wanted to attack,” Thiesse said. “It was our mindset to be aggressive, and we got a lot of high-percentage shots where we created contact.”

Minnesota State (14-4, 10-4 in Northern Sun) gets back on the road with games Friday at Mary and Saturday at Minot State. The Mavericks are 4-4 in road games this season.

“We just need to focus on team defense,” Davis said. “We’ve picked up our defense the last few games, and if we can keep doing that, we’ll come home with two big wins.”

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