Winona State shot lights out in the first half and had four players score in double figures to pick up a 67-50 women’s basketball victory against Alaska and claim the 2012 Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational team title on Saturday night at the Patty Center.
Becca Friestleben was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player as she tied for a game-high 17 points on Saturday. On the week, she averaged 16.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game for the Warriors (5-1).
She was joined on the All-Tournament Team by her teammates, Katie Wolff and Michelle Tobin. Wolff had 17 points against the Nanooks (0-6) and compiled 14.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.3 steals per outing while Tobin had 10 points and eight boards to finish the week with 13.3 points and 9.3 rebounds.
Alaska was led by senior guard Taylor Altenburg (Elko, Nev./Criminal justice), who finished with a team-best 12 points and two steals. She was also named to the All-Tournament squad after she finished the three games with 12.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.
Junior guard April Fultz (Rialto, Calif./Political science) chipped in 10 points and nine rebounds while junior forward Ruth O’Neal (Fort Washakie, Wyo./Justice) provided seven points, eight rebounds and two dimes in just 13 minutes off the bench.
WSU shot 43-percent for the game, including 55-percent in the first half while holding Alaska to less than 35-percent from the floor. Winona outscored Alaska 20-8 off turnovers and 12-4 in transition but the ‘Nooks held the scoring advantage in the paint (30-16) and on second-chance opportunities (19-10).
With the game tied at 6-6 early in the first, Winona hit four treys in 2:58 to take an 18-8 lead. Later in the half, with a 31-17 advantage, the Warriors closed the first with seven in a row over the last 1:47 to go up 38-17 at the break.
The lead eventually reached the thirties as WSU opened the second with 16-4 run to grab a 54-21 lead with 15:42 to play. A pair of free throws with 9:59 to go put the Warriors up 61-31 but Alaska’s defense kicked it into high gear from then on.
The biggest bright spot of the night began then as the Nanooks held Winona State without a point for 8:16 as they cut the lead down to 13 with a 17-0 run during that time span. It wasn’t enough, however as WSU closed the game with six of the final eight points to capture the North Star Invitational title.
2012 Mt. McKinley Bank North Star Invitational All-Tournament Team:
Taylor Altenburg, Alaska
Alissa Diaz, Anderson
Whitney Kieffer, Upper Iowa
Katie Wolff, Winona State
Michelle Tobin, Winona State
Most Valuable Player: Becca Friestleben, Winona State
Champions: Winona State (3-0)
Second: Anderson (2-1)
Third: Upper Iowa (1-2)
Fourth: Alaska (0-3)