By Chad Courrier
---- — MANKATO — A month ago, the Minnesota State women's basketball team was 7-1, having won seven straight, when it went on the road for games at Augustana and Wayne State.
The Mavericks returned from that trip with two losses. They get a chance at revenge this weekend at home.
"We'll definitely have a little chip on our shoulder," Mavericks coach Emilee Thiesse said. "We split last weekend so that will also be motivation, but we'll remember that we went 0-2 on that (Augustana-Wayne State) road trip."
The Mavericks (10-4, 7-3 in Northern Sun) hosts Augustana (10-4, 6-4) at 6 p.m. today and Wayne State (16-1, 9-1) at 4 p.m. Saturday. Last month, Wayne State won 79-64 and Augustana won 86-82.
Against Wayne State, the Mavericks shot only 35.0 percent against the zone and allowed 38 points in the paint.
"We got all the shots that we wanted, but we just gave up too many points inside," Thiesse said. "Their size killed us. We're going to need to improve defensively."
The Augustana game was played at a faster pace, and the Mavericks shot 48.4 percent. However, Augustana made 21 more free throws and outscored the Mavericks by 10 in the second half to pull out the victory.
"Our transition offense has been touch and go lately, but Augustana's transition game is very good," Thiesse said."They want to play at a pace similar to ours."
Free throws have been a problem for the Mavericks, who have been called for 45 more fouls than opponents. That's led to a 53-point deficit at the free-throw line. In Friday's 16-point loss at Northern State, the Wolves outscored Minnesota State by 30 at the line.
Junior point guard Zach Monaghan leads Division II with 128 assists, averaging 7.5 per game. He leads the Northern Sun by almost 3 assists per game.
"He's done an incredible job, especially since we came back from the break," Minnesota State coach Matt Margenthaler said. "He's been more of a leader. He's able to forget about the mistakes and control what he can control."
The program record for assists is 221, set by Gene Glynn in 1976-77. At Monaghan's pace, he would end up at 218 by the end of the regular season. Monaghan has five games with 10 or more assists, including the last three.
"He's very unselfish," Margenthaler said. "Guys know if they run the court and get open, he'll get the ball to them. He can score, but he'll give it up when he has the opportunity."
Monaghan is also averaging 14.2 points, which is second on the team, meaning that based on two points per assist, Monaghan is accounting for more than 29 points per game, about 34 percent of the team's scoring. The percentage rises when you figure that some of the assists came on 3-pointers.
When Monaghan passes to teammates Gage Wooten and Assem Marei, there's a good chance to get an assist. Wooten leads the conference in field-goal shooting at 62.1 percent, with Marei second at 60.6 percent.
The Gusties (6-6, 3-6 in MIAC), who have lost four of the last five games, will play at St. Mary's. Gustavus is 2-2 in road games.
Julia Dysthe leads the team in scoring at 16.1 points, with a team-best 15 3-pointers. Karina Schroeder leads the Gusties with 102 rebounds and 26 blocked shots with four double-doubles. At her current pace of 8.5 rebounds per game, Schroeder would end the regular season at 218 boards, which would rank eighth in program history.
Gustavus (9-5, 6-3) fell three games out of first place in the MIAC after Wednesday's loss to St. Thomas. Gustavus leads the MIAC in field-goal shooting at 52.1 percent, the only conference team to make more than 50 percent. Gustavus also ranks first in defense, allowing only 62.0 points per game.
The Gusties have shown balanced scoring, with four players averaging eight points or more. Jordan Dick and Brody Ziegler are both averaging 12.0 points.
The Vikings (3-9, 0-1 in UMAC) hosts North Central at 7:30 p.m. today and Northwestern at 5 p.m. Saturday. The Vikings lost the UMAC opener at Martin Luther on Saturday.
Bethany is averaging 71.5 points but allowing 78.6 points. However, the Vikings are outscoring opponents by almost four points at the free-throw line. Kasslin Swenson leads the team at the line, shooting 86.7 percent. Jade Pelzl, who is averaging 15.3 points, leads the team with 33 3-pointers.
Bethany (1-11, 0-1) has lost five straight heading into this weekend's home games, with a 5:30 p.m. start Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday. The Vikings are averaging 64.4 points but only 61.8 points in the last six games.
Jacob Wensmann is averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds, which leads the team in both categories. The Vikings are shooting 75.5 percent on free throws, with four players at 80 percent or better.