Men’s basketball crushes University of Minnesota-Duluth

Pronob Kumar, Sports Reporter

With a score of 84 – 72, the Warriors (Winona State University) pinned their victory against the Bulldogs (University of Minnesota, Duluth), which is one of the strongest teams. The match was also against the home crowd, as it took place at the Romano Gymnasium, Duluth, MN.

The game was one-sided in the first half with Winona State University taking an early lead, ending the half with a lead of 43 – 29. Minnesota Duluth tried to make a comeback in the second half by scoring 43 points, but it was not enough as Winona State continued to score 41 points in the second half.

Before the match against Minnesota Duluth, Winona State lost two close matches. One against Bemidji State University with a score of 65 – 61 and another loss to St. Cloud State University, with a score of 74 – 70. In both matches the success rate for the Warriors’ attacking players was low.

Before the match with Minnesota Duluth, the Warrior team captain, Luke Martens was asked about the missed 3 shots and whether their coach was preparing something special or not. He replied, “We missed a lot of shots last weekend, but I feel we put in the work this week and will bounce back better shooting it this weekend.” Though we do not know whether that is any special strategy of the coach or not, definitely their hard work paid off.

As a team, Winona State shot 53.6% from the field and 50.0% from deep, while knocking down 15 from 21 free throws. The Warriors outscored the Bulldogs in the paint by two points and gained 12 more points off turnovers.

Winona State gained separation midway through the first half with a nine-point scoring run, but the Bulldogs clawed back and made it a one-point game with five minutes left in the opening half. The Warriors answered right back, going on a 13-0 run to end the half and take a 43-29 halftime lead.

If we speak about individual success, the first name that comes to mind is Connor Dillon. This player from Peoria has been the scoring term card for Warriors. Even this match was no different from the last one as he scored 30 points alone. He had a solid 50% shot success rate in this match from the field, including 2 – 7 from deep.

In an interview before the match Dillon was asked about his strategy for the next match and information about any special practice he replied, “Our strategy this weekend is staying locked in the scout at practice and preparing each other to get ready for these games. We are going up against two good teams, so we know we are going to need to be very connected with one another right away. Staying confident with my shots is one of the main things I was focusing on this week. Not having any doubt when I shoot it that it’s going to come off the rim. That’s the mindset you need to have if you want to be a great shooter.” Dillon’s words definitely say that he is confident to make this season memorable for the Warriors.

Some other individual achievements can also be highlighted in this match from both sides. For University of Minnesota Duluth, Drew Blair and Austin Andrews scored 26 and 14 points each. For Winona State, Connor Drew scored 20 points and he had more shots on target than other players on the day. Team Captain, Luke Martens picked up eight rebounds and Declan Dillon dished out a game-high six assists while adding eight points and four boards, which turned the game in the Warriors’ favor.

Despite this big win, Winona State is still behind Minnesota Duluth in the NSIC ranking tables this season. Minnesota Duluth played 12 NSIC games and won 9 of them. On the other hand, Winona state also played 12 matches but has only won 5. Still, the Warriors have a good overall match record this season as they have won 10 of their 17 matches.

Up next among the big teams, the Warriors will face Minnesota State University Moorhead on Jan. 28. The Warriors lost their last two matches against them. Because Winona State is always focused on defensive play, that match will be a hard one for them but the potential their attacking players showed in this last match might give them an easy win as well.