Warriors two-day win after losing streak provides hope


Carolyn Hauschild

The Warriors faced off against Augustana University on Friday, Feb. 3. The team triumphed with a 74-69 win, thus ending a three-game losing streak.

Kayla Vang, Sports Reporter

The Winona State University men’s basketball team hosted Augustana University on Friday, Feb. 3 and finished clutch time with crazy plays to earn the Warriors a 74-69 win.  

In the first half of the game, the Vikings brought in great energy and opened with a 9-0 run, but WSU (Winona State University) countered with their own 12-2 scoring streak to take the lead during the beginning 12 minutes of the first half. Each team exchanged buckets throughout the period before Augustana advanced the score to 34-28, leading the first half.  

After the break, Warriors trimmed away at the Vikings six-point lead and WSU’s James Kelly sent in a layup to tie the score 54-54, then went ahead to get fouled moving Winona State ahead by two 56-54.  

With just four minutes left to play, the Warriors kept an eight-point lead at 67-59 but Augustana chipped away at the advantage and brought out a pace to force overtime. The Vikings put in their last of efforts that included a pair of free throws with 43 seconds to go, they followed up with a layup to draw 71-69 between the two. Though WSU’s Declan Dillon hit two free throws after being fouled, Luke Martens went ahead to get a rebound in the final seconds, not letting the threat of Augustana score.  

As a team, Winona state was 29-of-57 (50.9%) overall from the field and knocked in 8-of-24 (33.3%) 3-pointers in the evening.  

Winona gained 14 trips to the foul line, turning eight, while the Vikings were 7-of-12 on free throws. Although, Augustana took the minor edge in rebounds at 29-28.  

Connor Dillon shined as Winona’s leading scorer with 26 points, just one shy point away from his career high of 27, which he got at the beginning of the season against Concordia – St. Paul on Dec. 3. James Kelley added 12 points, as Luke Martens did 11 points of his own. Declan Dillon added six rebounds and came out with nine assists, a season-high for Head Coach Todd Eisner.  

“Individuality is to do what is needed to help the team win,” Connor Drew said.  

With the victory, Winona State boosted themselves to 12-10 overall, 7-10 in the NSIC.  

They were next in action the following day, Saturday, Feb. 4, scheduled to play against Wayne State College and picked up another win, 67-63. 

Winona’s lead scorer, Connor Dillon, led with 23 points and six assists. Dillon has been meeting or surpassing the 20-point mark 13 times this winter. Luke Martens and Connor Drew joined him with 15 and 11 points, as well as Kelley who had ten points coming off the bench.  

WSU’s rebound leads were Drew with eight, Kelly grabbed seven and Martens added 4, with him getting the last rebound off the board helping secure the Warriors in preventing Wayne State from scoring.  

The Wildcats were successful in getting a close scoreline 64-63 as they got in a tip shot. Martens was fouled after his rebound, earning him the chance to go to the line and calmly knocked down both free throws making it a 3-point lead 66-63. Kelley then completed the scoring by hitting one of two free throws with three seconds to go at 67-63.  

Overall, the Warriors were 23-of-49 (46.9%) as a team from the floor and hit 8-of-18 (44.4%) from the three-point line, one of their best collective long-range efforts of the season. Winona knocked in 13 free throws out of the 18 they earned and out-rebounded Wayne State 34-27.  

WSC was led in scoring by Nate Mohr with 17 points. Jordan Janssen and Cody McCullough both had nine rebounds each for the Wildcats.  

Augustana University and Wayne State both entered McCown Gymnasium with two and eight game winning streaks, but Winona State played both nights strongly to earn themselves a weekend win.  

“Winning as a team, nothing feels better than a team W,” Connor Dillon said.  

With that, Winona State improved to 13-10 overall and 8-10 NSIC.  

The final four regular season games loom large for Winona State, as WSU will play on the road in three of their four remaining games.  

The Warriors will take on their next opponents Southwest Minnesota State and University of Sioux Falls next Friday and Saturday, before traveling to Minnesota State – Mankato on Thursday, Feb. 16. Winona’s final regular-season home game, also Senior Day, is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18 where they will host Concordia, St. Paul in McCown Gymnasium, home of the WNB Financial court.