The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 1, 2013

MSU basketball preview: Women good, with room to grow

By Chad Courrier
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — The Minnesota State women’s basketball team is 23-4, having won the last 12 games.

The Mavericks score 77.1 points per game, more than 11 more than they allow.

Yet, sophomore point guard Aubrey Davis insists that her team can still improve.

“I think we’re still getting better,” said Davis, a few minutes before Friday’s practice. “We need to come to practice with intensity, both offensively and defensively. We need to come to work every day.”

The Mavericks (23-4) host Minnesota State-Moorhead (16-11) at 4 p.m. today in the quarterfinals of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference women’s basketball tournament at Bresnan Arena. Minnesota State defeated the Dragons 74-55 on Jan. 12 at home.

In that victory, Davis scored 23 points, making 5 of 6 from 3-point range. The Mavericks shot 50.8 percent from the field, holding the Dragons to 36.4 percent shooting.

Minnesota State-Moorhead got to the quarterfinals with a 62-50 victory over Sioux Falls on Wednesday. Another victory would put the Mavericks into the tournament semifinals, which will be held at Rochester again. Minnesota State lost a semifinal game to top-seeded Wayne State last year.

“That was a great gym, and we had a lot of fans,” Davis said. “We’d like to get back there and get to the final game this year.”

Minnesota State men

The last time Minnesota State-Moorhead came to Bresnan Arena, there was a lot of hype: one of the best teams in the South Division vs. one of the best from the North.

However, the Mavericks overwhelmed the Dragons, jumping ahead 21-4 after six minutes, and rolled to an 87-64 victory. The Mavericks shot 52.5 percent from the field and made 17 of 19 free throws. The Dragons are one of the few teams that have outrebounded Minnesota State.

“We did a good job defensively that night,” Minnesota State coach Matt Margenthaler said. “They’re a very good offensive team, especially on the perimeter, but we did a good job of contesting shots. It was one of those days where everything was going well for us.”

Minnesota State (23-4) hosts Minnesota State-Moorhead (18-10) in the quarterfinals of the Northern Sun tournament at 2 p.m. today at Bresnan Arena.

The Dragons, who defeated Southwest Minnesota State 87-78 in the opening round of the league tournament, rank third in conference scoring at 74.5 points per game, led by Anthony Tucker’s 18.9 points. Center Alex Novak is averaging 12.9 points and a conference-leading 9.9 rebounds.

“They’ve got a good big man, who is a game-changer on the defensive end,” Margenthaler said. “They have three guards who can go off at any time, so you’re never comfortable. It’s a great quarterfinal game for us.”

The Mavericks have averaged 85 points in the last three games, raising the season average to 79.0 points per game. Jarvis Williams has snapped out of a small scoring slump, getting 31 points in the last two games. Zach Monaghan has averaged 17.7 points in the last three games. Connor O’Brien has four games of at last 10 rebounds.

“We’ve had a more consistent effort (the last three games), and we’ve played well together,” Margenthaler said. “We’ve competed at both ends, which creates some tough matchups.”