WAYNE, Neb. -- Wayne State scored the final six points of the game to escape with a 78-74 win against Minnesota State-Mankato Friday evening in the first round of the NCAA tournament.  Wayne State won its 44th consecutive game at Rice Auditorium and improved to 30-2 on the season with the win while Minnesota State-Mankato finishes the season at 18-11.

Wayne State owned three wins in the regular season against the Mavericks by a combined 69 points, but Minnesota State-Mankato used torrid three point shooting in the second half (9 of 15) to rally from an 18-point deficit midway through the second half and took a two point lead at 74-72 before WSC scored the final six points of the game for the dramatic 78-74 win.

The first half was tightly contested as the visiting Mavericks took an early 6-0 lead on the 'Cats.  Wayne State's first lead came at 13-12 on an Ashton Yossi three pointer with 12:50 to play in the first half. WSC took a three point lead at 15-12 before Minnesota State-Mankato scored six consecutive points for a 18-15 lead against the Wildcats. With the score tied at 26-26, WSC went on an 11-5 run to end the final 3:32 of the first half to take a 37-31 lead at halftime.

WSC began to pull away midway through the second half as the 'Cats took a 51-41 lead on a Jennifer Kalbfell layup with 12:17 to play.  The 'Cats took their biggest lead of the night at 61-43 with a pair of Ashton Yossi free throws at the 10:15 mark. Then Minnesota State-Mankato began its comeback and took a 74-72 lead on Jennie Noreen's three pointer with 2:50 to play.

Ali Schwartzwald made one of two free throws with 1:14 to play, cutting the Maverick lead to one at 74-73.  The 'Cats regained the lead at 75-74 with 24.5 seconds left on Ashley Arlen's layup on a lob pass from Clare Duwelius.  WSC forced a turnover on Minnesota State's Jennie Noreen on the next possession and Schwartzwald made one of two free throws for a 76-74 lead with 7.3 seconds to play. Minnesota State-Mankato then drove to the basket and the 'Cats forced another turnover on Aubrey Davis as she drove to the basket and Schwartzwald was fouled and sealed the win with a pair of free throws with 1.6 seconds to play for the 78-74 win.

WSC senior All-American forward Ashley Arlen led the Wildcats in scoring with 25 points, including a perfect 10 for 10 free throw shooting.  Freshman reserve guard Ashton Yossi added 19 points off the bench while Ellen Hansen and Ali Schwartzwald also reached double figures with 11 and 10 points respectively.

The Wildcats made 23 of 53 shots from the field for 43.4 percent, including 9 of 20 from the three point line.  WSC was 23 of 26 at the charity stripe (88.5 percent).

Minnesota State-Mankato was paced by Laura Weber's 19 points.  Aubrey Davis chipped in with 17 points followed by Jennie Noreen with 16 and Jamie Bresnahan with 12 points and 11 rebounds.  The Mavericks were 28 of 61 from the field for 45.9 percent and made 11 of 21 from the three point line to go with 7 of 12 free throws.

WSC held a slim 36-32 edge in rebounding against the Mavericks as Hansen, Arlen and Eva Benson each hauled in eight rebounds for the Wildcats while Bresnahan had a game-high 11 rebounds for Minnesota State-Mankato.  Aubrey Davis and Alli Hoefer each were credited with seven assists for Minnesota State-Mankato with Alisha Brown and Ali Schwartzwald handing out four apiece for the Wildcats.