Emporia State battles back from halftime deficit to eliminate MSU-Mankato
Emporia State overcame an 11-point halftime deficit to post a 69-67 victory against Minnesota State-Mankato in the NCAA Division II Central Regional Semifinals and advance to the Round of 16 for the tenth time in the last 16 years.
The Mavericks jumped out to a 8-2 lead to force a Lady Hornet time out just 2:26 into the game. Laura Patrick hit back-to-back threes out fo the time out to force a tie before Minnesota State went on an 11-0 run and took a 19-8 lead with 12:25 left in the first half. Emporia State answered with their own 10-2 run to pull within 20-18 with 6:05 left on a Rachel Hanf jumper. The teams would go to the break with the Mavericks leading 28-27, the first time in five games the Lady Hornets trailed at the half.
Minnesota State used an 8-0 run to take a 42-34 lead with 15:37 left in the game and held a 45-37 lead with 13:45 left. Hanf then hit back-to-back three pointers from the corner to pull Emporia State within two at the 12:25 mark and force a Minnesota State time out.
The Lady Hornets took their first lead of the game on a pair of Sarah Wood free throws with 9:48 left only to see the Mavericks score the next six points for a 54-49 lead with 8:12 remaining. Rheanna Egli, who did not score in ther first half after being saddled with foul trouble, hit a three pointer followed by another three from Patrick to give Emporia State a 55-54 lead with 7:19 left. There would be four lead changes and two ties in the final seven minutes as neither team took more than a four-point lead the rest of the way.
Egli buried a three to give the Lady Hornets the lead for good at 66-64 with 3:12 left and Merissa Quick made it a two possession game with a jumper in the paint a minute later. Aubrey Davis cut the lead to three with a free throw at the 2:03 mark and no one else would score until Ali Wilkinson hit a layup and was fouled with 1:02 left. She missed the free throw and Hanf pulled the rebound. The two teams traded missed jumpers and Quick was fouled after getting a defensive rebound with 20.9 seconds left. She hit one of two free throws for a 69-67 lead. Alli Hoefer missed a three-pointer with 12 seconds left. Jamelia Hudnell got the rebound and tried for the put back, but missed and Haley Parker secured the rebound to send the Lady Hornets into the regional championship for the second consecutive year.
Patrick led Emporia State with 18 points and nine rebounds. She was joined in double figures by Egli and Hanf with 13 each and Jocelyn Cummings with 10 points.
Emporia State held Minnesota State, the eighth ranked scoring team in the nation, to their second-lowest point total of the season.