The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

December 11, 2013

MSU women get another test with tough road trip

MANKATO — Through seven games, the Minnesota State women’s basketball team has already been tested on the road, playing a pair of top-15 teams on their court.

The No. 12-ranked Mavericks (6-1, 3-0 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) get another road test this weekend, playing at No. 17 Wayne State (10-0, 3-0) on Friday and at No. 10 Augustana (6-1, 2-1) on Saturday. The top of the South Division could start to take shape after these games, though Minnesota State coach Emilee Thiesse said it’s too early to put much into the outcomes.

“There’s going to be other big games down the road, as the conference races shakes out,” Thiesse said. “But the reason you play a tough schedule is to get ready for tough road games like these.”

The Mavericks are averaging 89.1 points, which leads Northern Sun teams, while Wayne State averages 84.1 and Augustana is at 83.7. But Thiesse said that defense will determine her team’s fate. Wayne State, which features a matchup zone, leads the conference in scoring defense at 54.4 points allowed.

“We’re facing two offensively talented teams, and if we want to win, we have to play lock-down defense,” Thiesse said. “You want to focus on these games and not look too far ahead. There’s enough parity in the league that things can change.”

Senior post Ali Wilkinson ranks sixth among Northern Sun players at 18.9 points per game, and 10th at 7.6 rebounds. Aubrey Davis is seventh with 4.2 assists, while Jamie Bresnahan ranks 12th with 6.7 rebounds.

Minnesota State men: Senior wing Alex Hanks is still waiting to get an MRI on his injured knee, though he didn’t sound optimistic on Saturday. He injured the knee while battling for a loose ball in Friday’s victory against Upper Iowa. He was on crutches Saturday.

Hanks started the first nine games and averaged 4.2 points and 2.1 rebounds, but he was the most likely Mavericks player to dive on the floor or scramble for a loose ball. Ironically, that’s how he was injured.

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