The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

January 11, 2013

Defense leads MSU women over Wolves

MANKATO — Through the first 11 games, the Minnesota State women’s basketball team won nine times, but it wasn’t always because of defense.

Heading into Friday night’s home game against Northern State, the Mavericks ranked 12th in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference for scoring defense, allowing 64.1 points per game — probably because Minnesota State ranked 14th in field-goal defense (41.3 percent) and 15th in 3-point defense (37.4 percent).

“(Defense) is something that’s just been grinding and bothering us,” coach Emilee Thiesse said. “I challenged the girls after (last week’s loss to Wayne State), and it felt better tonight. We needed to have a defensive effort like that.”

Minnesota State held Northern State to 35.2 percent shooting in a 71-47 victory in a Northern Sun game Friday at Bresnan Arena.

“That’s the proudest I’ve felt about our defense.” Thiesse said.

The Mavericks’ aggressive halfcourt defense held Northern State to just 30.4 percent shooting in the first half, which ended with Minnesota State up 34-18. The Wolves made only one field goal from outside the lane as the Mavericks blanketed the perimeter players.

The Mavericks shot only 37.1 percent in the first half but had 12 offensive rebounds to create 12 more shot attempts.

“We like to dictate, and we forced (Northern State) out to the 3-point line and took them out of their offense,” Thiesse said. “We had a lot more pressure on the ball.”

Point guard Aubrey Davis hit two 3-pointers to build the lead to 51-28 at the 13-minute mark, and the Mavericks coasted to an easy victory.

Ali Wilkinson led the balanced attack with 12 points, and Jamie Bresnahan scored 10. Both players grabbed six rebounds.

“Ali is a great player, and we need her,” Thiesse said. “But we’re not a one-person team; that doesn’t fit into our team philosophy. A lot of players stepped up tonight.”

The Mavericks (10-2, 6-2 in Northern Sun) play at home again tonight, taking on Minnesota State-Moorhead. Game time is 4 p.m.

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