The Free Press, Mankato, MN

December 11, 2013

MSU women get another test with tough road trip

By Chad Courrier ccourrier@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — 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.

The Mavericks are coming off a three-point home loss to Winona State, and Margenthaler said that after watching film, he saw the need for some changes.

“We need to demand more from our guys to do the little things,” Margenthaler said. “It’s not all on the players, it’s on myself and the staff, too. We need to show them how important the little things are.”

Margenthaler said that his team didn’t defend the ball screens well, and the on-ball defense wasn’t very good.

“When you struggle shooting, like we did that night, you have to be consistent on the defensive end,” Margenthaler said.

Gustavus Adolphus men: The Gusties (6-1, 3-0 in MIAC) have won three straight, heading into Wednesday’s game at St. John’s. Jordan Dick is the leading scorer at 14.3 points, with Isaac Tapp at 14.1 points. Brody Ziegler has raised his averages to 12.9 points and 4.7 rebounds.

All five starters are shooting better than 60 percent from the field: Ziegler (69.8), Martin Fedderson (64.7), Brian Jacobs, Tapp (61.2) and Dick (60.7). The team is shooting 58.3 percent.

Gustavus Adolphus women: The Gusties (4-1, 1-1) are coming off their first loss, a 70-47 setback at home against Concordia on Saturday and hosted St. Benedict on Wednesday. Gustavus the plays at Augsburg Saturday.

Britta Rinke leads the Gusties with 16.8 points, which ranks third in the MIAC, and 5.6 rebounds, while Julia Dysthe averages 13.2 points. Karina Schroeder averages 12.8 points and 9.6 rebounds, which is third in the conference.

Bethany Lutheran men: Senior Jacob Wensmann is coming off a career game, with 29 points and 16 rebounds against Covenant (Ga.) College. He raised his scoring average to 16.0 points and rebounding average to 8.0. Darin Haugh is averaging 10.8 points and 4.5 assists.

The Vikings (0-6) are allowing 84.5 points and 54.0 percent shooting, while being outrebounded by five per game.

Bethany Lutheran women: For the Vikings (1-5), Jade Pelzl is averaging 15.2 points, with 16 3-pointers in six games. Kasslin Swenson is averaging 14.0 points and 8.7 rebounds, and Angie Scheffler is averaging 10.7 points.

The Vikings are shooting 76.6 percent on free throws, with 21 more attempts than opponents, who are shooting 63.3 percent. However, the Vikings have 118 turnovers against only 83 assists.