Nov. 23—MANKATO — The Golden Bears simply had no answer.
The Minnesota State women's basketball team slapped on a relentless full-court press from the start of Tuesday's season-opening Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game and the visitors were unable to handle it. The Mavericks jumped to a quick 8-0 lead and eventually extended that advantage to 24 points in the second quarter.
By the time it was over, MSU had secured a 91-61 victory at Taylor Center. The Mavericks' defense finished with 23 steals and forced 29 turnovers. They turned those turnovers into 27 points.
"That's nothing new," said MSU's Destinee Bursch, who finished with a team-high 14 points. "That's the way we play all the time — full-court press, full-court defense."
So complete was the MSU win that leading scorer Joey Batt sat out most of the first half with early foul trouble and wasn't even missed.
"I don't think Joey gets enough credit for the player that she is but we know we play a team game," MSU coach Emilee Thiesse said. "It was good to see five players in double figures and nine players with at least 10 minutes of playing time."
If Tuesday's game had a turning point, it probably came in the first three minutes when they raced to that 8-0 lead. A layup and short jumper by Bursch, another layup by Emily Herzberg and still another layup by Batt led to the early advantage.
"We knew once we had that lead that we could build on it," Bursch said. "It gives you confidence when you see your game plan working right from the start."
Sarah Kuma came into the game as the Golden Bears' leading scorer but MSU was able to hold her scoreless for the first half. She ended up with five points.
"She and (Jaydn) Hanson are really good players for them and we knew we had to try to contain them as best we could," Thiesse said. "It's a credit to how hard our players worked on defense that they didn't hurt us too badly."
Hanson did lead the Golden Bears in scoring with 16 points. Ally Gietzel was the only other CSP player in double figures with 10 points.
Despite her limited playing time, Batt finished with a game-high five steals and game-high five assists. Emily Russo and Molly Ihle led the Mavericks with six rebounds apiece.
Following Bursch in the scoring column for MSU were Herzberg and Natalie Bremer with 12 points each, and Russo and Taylor Theusch with 10 points apiece. Bursch, Bremer and Ihle each had three steals.
After taking a 43-23 lead into the locker room at halftime, the Mavericks continued to press in the second half and continued to grow their lead. With 7:38 to play in the game, MSU's Bremer converted a fast-break layup to give her team its biggest advantage at 79-46.
The win improves MSU to 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in the NSIC. The Mavericks return to action at 2 p.m. Saturday with a nonconference game at Wisconsin-Parkside.