The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 23, 2013

MSU women win Gengenbacher Style

MANKATO — For the first 16 minutes, the Minnesota State women’s basketball team was kind of sleep walking, not getting many loose balls, not defending very well and not making many shots.

But a couple of 3-pointers by Karlee Gengenbacher and Jamie Bresnahan was the alarm the Mavericks needed and Minnesota State woke up on both ends.

“We came out kind of slow, which was obvious to everyone,” Gengenbacher said. “We kind of went back to the team we were a couple months ago. In the second half, we played more like a team should at the end of February.”

The Mavericks outscored Southwest Minnesota State 57-30 over the final 23 minutes and rolled to an 80-62 victory in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference regular-season finale Saturday at Bresnan Arena. The Mavericks finished second in the conference and South Division.

“You want to feel good going into the conference tournament,” coach Emilee Thiesse said. “It was good for us to play well in the second half.”

With 3:20 left in the half, Southwest Minnesota State was up 32-26. However, Ali Wilkinson scored with an assist from Ali Hoefer, then Gengenbacher nailed a 3-pointer to pull within one.

On the next possession, Bresnahan made her only shot of the game, a 3-pointer, to take the lead. After a Mustangs’ basket, Steffaney Thomas and Gengenbacher each scored from the lane as the Mavericks took an unexpected four-point lead into halftime.

“It was big for momentum,” Gengenbacher said. “We probably shouldn’t have been ahead.”

Aubrey Davis hit a 3-pointer to start the second half, sparking a nine-point run. A 17-0 run a couple minutes later built the lead to 64-41 at the 12-minute mark.

The Mavericks shot 53.3 percent in the second half, including 6 of 14 from 3-point range. Minnesota State had only six turnovers in the second half.

“At halftime, we were down in every statistical category,” Thiesse said. “Sometimes, the emotion of the last regular-season home game and Senior Night is tough. We just played with more passion in the second half.”

Gengenbacher had 18 points, and Thomas and Davis each scored 14. Thomas also had eight rebounds and Hoefer made eight assists.

The Mavericks (22-4, 18-4 in Northern Sun) open the conference tournament at home Wednesday against Bemidji State. Game time is set for 6 p.m. at Bresnan Arena.

“I think we showed some fight tonight,” Gengenbacher said. “This team plays for each other. It’s a fun team to be part of.”

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