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Winona State started slow, but turned it on and made big baskets when it counted as it defeated Minot State 63-57 on Wednesday at McCown Gymnasium to advance in the NSIC Women’s Basketball Tournament.

After shooting just 34.6 percent from the field in the first half, the Warriors bounced back to make 78 percent in the fourth quarter.

“I’m proud of how resilient we were,” WSU coach Scott Ballard said. “We bent but we didn’t break. After we had the timeout and fell behind, I don’t think we had any turnovers in the first six or seven minutes, (Kayla) Schaefer made some big-time shots and we needed every one of them.”

Schaefer was huge in the final period, scoring 10 of the Warriors 22 fourth-quarter points including a pair of giant 3s, including a dagger with just under a minute to go. With the Warriors up by 3 with 56 seconds remaining, she caught a pass in the right corner and put the Warriors up by six.

Her other 3 put an end to a back-and-forth rally that saw the lead change hands eight times from the 8:36 mark to the 4:42 mark of the fourth. Schaefer made two jumpers during that stretch, then finally ended it with a 3 off an assist from Allie Pickrain.

“I knew it was a close game and being a senior, you’ve got to leave it all out there,” said Schaefer, who finished with 16 points. “If we wouldn’t have won, we were going home, so I knew that coming in. It was getting to be a grind and down to the wire, so I just took over and tried to help the team. We needed a score.”

In the regular season matchup between the Warriors and Beavers, WSU made 15 3s — third most in a single game in program history. But it was much slower going for much of the game as the Warriors made just 4-of-17 shots from beyond the arc.

Points were hard to come by for both sides in the first half as the Warriors entered the break, leading 20-16. WSU made just 9-of-26 field goals in the first half, while Minot State made 7-of-25.

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“We knew it was going to be be tougher than the first time,” Schaefer said. “They knew more about us after playing them the first time and in the playoffs it’s always a battle — anything can happen.”

But the game kicked into gear in the third as both sides more than doubled their scores before the close of the period with Winona State scored 21 and MSU scored 20.

“They were sagging off Taylor so we knew we needed to be on opposite sides of the floor and just looking to post up more,” Schaefer said. “I wasn’t trying to change things up, but I was more aggressive looking for my shot.”

Second-chance points killed the Warriors all game and kept the Beavers in it. MSU scored 13 second-chance points while grabbing 16 offensive rebounds. They out-rebounded WSU 37-26. Whitney Molina led the way with eight boards, while Calli Delsman had seven. Taylor Hustad led WSU with six rebounds.

“(Molina) and (Delsman) are big rebounders for that team and (Delsman) kept getting rebounds which was frustrating,” said Hustad, who scored 14 points for the Warriors. “But that’s her game — getting o-boards and putbacks. So it was really tough. They push you through and jump pretty high.”

The Warriors advance to play MSU Moorhead in the conference quarterfinals at noon on Saturday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Dragons defeated WSU 64-51 in a regular season matchup back on Jan. 4 in Winona.

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