Wildcat women win again, men's upsets hopes dashed

The Wayne State women won a wild battle Saturday over Minnesota State, while the men’s hopes for an upset of the leader in the Northern Sun Conference fell short at the end in action at Rice Auditorium.

In the women’s game, Wayne State made a season-high 30 free throws while Paige Ballinger and Andrea Larson led the Wildcats to a 92-73 victory over Minnesota State. Saturday afternoon in Northern Sun Conference women’s basketball played in Wayne at Rice Auditorium.

The first half was a high-scoring contest as Wayne State, 14-4 overall and 8-2 in the NSIC, scored its second-highest total in a quarter this season in the opening stanza to take a 31-25 lead thanks to 12-of-22 shooting.

After Minnesota State scored the first six points of the second quarter to even the score at 31-31, Wayne STate went on a 13-3 run and took their first double-digit lead of the night at 44-34 on a layup from Evelyn Knox at the 3:06 mark of the second quarter.

The Wildcats used a Maggie Lowe 3-pointer with :53 left to take their biggest lead of the first half into the locker room at 51-40. It was the second-most points scored in a half this season by WSC, one short of the 52 scored against Wisconsin-Parkside on Nov. 5.

Both teams started sluggish in the third quarter, but Wayne State still outscored the Mavericks 20-12 to take a 71-52 lead after three quarters. A Haley Vesey trey at the 2:33 mark gave the Wildcats their biggest lead of the quarter at 67-47.

Wayne State took their biggest lead of the game at 76-52 with 9:25 remaining on a pair of free throws and cruised to the win over the Mavericks.

Ballinger and Larson each had 21 points to lead the Wildcats in the win. Larson was 5-of-7 from the field and 11-for-15 at the charity stripe while Ballinger was 6-of-12 from the floor and a perfect 12-of-12 at the free throw line. Maggie Schulte also hit double digits with 13 points, while Vesey added 11 points without missing a shot, going 3-for-3 from the field with two 3-pointers, and also 3-for-3 at the line.

Ballinger hauled in eight boards and blocked three shots to lead the Wildcats, while Schulte had five assists.

In an exciting men’s matchup, Minnesota State’s Jamal Nixon made one of two free throws with 2.5 seconds left to help the Mavericks escape with a 75-74 in over the Wildcats, who fell to 10-8 overall and 5-5 in NSIC play.

Wayne State led for a good share of the first half, building an early 11-3 lead on the Mavericks thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Brian Goodwin.

The Wildcats led 16-7 before Minnesota State went on a 13-3 run to take a 20-19 lead the 6:19 mark of the half. Minnesota State later built a 30-26 lead, but Wayne State closed the half with seven straight points to take a 33-30 lead at intermission.

The Wildcats maintained the lead for much of the second half, building its biggest lead of the night at nine (55-46) following a pair of Vance Janssen free throws with 11:51 remaining.

The Mavericks rallied again, going on a 11-2 run to even the score at 57-57 with 9:05 to play. Tied at 65-65 with 4:31 remaining, Minnesota State reeled off seven straight points and took a 72-65 lead with 3:13 left.

Wayne State responded, however, scoring the next seven points and knotted the score at 72-72 on a Janssen layup with 1:16 to play. Two Jordan Cornelius free throws gave the Wildcats a 74-72 lead with :41 to play.

Minnesota State tied the game at 74-74 on two Charlie Brown free throws with 30.9 seconds to play, and the Wildcats played for the finals shot before Janssen’s layup was partially blocked by Chris Kendrix and Jamal Nixon was fouled on the rebound. Nixon made one of two free throws with 2.5 remaining to give the Mavericks the one-point lead, and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Kendall Jacks skimmed off the front rim, giving the visiting the Mavericks the win.

Janssen was one of five Wildcats in double figures with 13 points. Jacks, Trevin Joseph and Brian Goodwin each produced 11 points while Tony Bonner added 10 points. Minnesota State’s top scorer was Kevin Krieger with 22 points.

Jacks had seven boards for Wayne State, while Joseph had four assists and five steals.

Both Wildcat teams will be on the road next weekend, visiting Northern State Friday at 6 and 8 p.m., and MSU Moorhead Saturday for games at 4 and 6 p.m.

The Wayne Herald

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