Minnesota State's defense keys win over TWU for school's second Division II women's basketball title

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Natalie Bremer scored 27 points and Minnesota State scored 40 points off 30 turnovers in an 89-73 win over Texas Women’s University on Friday night to win the NCAA Division II championship.

Minnesota State (32-5), which extended its winning streak to 11 games, won its second championship in program history, in just two appearances, after claiming the title in 2009. It was the first under head coach Emily Thiesse in her 13 seasons.

TWU (34-5) was playing in its first national championship game in program history.

Minnesota State's dynamic full-court press caused problems again. After securing 27 turnovers on Wednesday in the semifinals, the Mavericks forced 30-plus for the 14th time this season. The team entered ranked first in turnover margin (plus-13), and second in turnovers forced per game (28) and steals (17).

Joey Batt, Minnesota State's floor leader, led the defensive effort with seven steals to go with 10 points and six assists. Bremer led the Mavericks in scoring for the third straight game, including 29 in the semifinals, to be named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Bremer totaled 72 points in the Elite Eight games with 17 rebounds and 11 steals.

Ava Stier added 13 points and eight rebounds, and Emily Herzberg, who had a game-winning layup in the semifinals, scored 12 for Minnesota State. Bremer hit 9 of 17 from the field, including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc and 6 of 6 at the free-throw line.

Ashley Ingram led TWU with 24 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Jada Celsur, averaging 9.5 points per game this season, added 20 points and Leila Patel scored 11.

Minnesota State scored 17 of the opening 22 points of the game as TWU made just 2 of 7 shots. The Mavericks led 26-13 at the end of the first quarter after making 4 of 8 3-pointers and holding TWU to just five made field goals.

Minnesota State was ahead 46-32 at halftime as TWU had 11 turnovers and just 10 field goals.

The advantage was 24 points entering the fourth before TWU battled back to get within 81-71 with 2:09 left following a 10-0 run. The Mavericks stayed ahead by double figures by making five of their next six free throws and Hannah Herzig sealed it with a 3-pointer in front of her bench.

It was the second meeting of the season between the teams after TWU overcame 23 turnovers to defeat the Mavericks 76-71 in early November at the Tipoff Classic in Montana. Batt did not play in that game.

The Minnesota State men's program will look to give the school another national title on Saturday when it faces Nova Southeastern.


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