Men’s basketball falls short 59-55

Allison Mueller

Alexandria Carter/ Winonan

On Saturday the Winona State University men’s basketball team started out the regular season with a loss to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse at home.

In the first 20 minutes of play sophomore guard Riley Bambenek led the Warriors with 11 points (19 total in the game). Sophomore forward Kyle Bauman helped defensively with seven rebounds (11 rebounds total in the game).

Winona State shot 50 percent as a team to lead UW-La Crosse 33-21 at half.

In the second half the Eagles outscored the Warriors 38-22 as the Warriors scored seven of their 25 shots (28 percent) while the Eagles scored 10 of 23 (43 percent).

Junior forward Mark Blacklock’s three-pointer with 5:24 left in the game gave the Warriors a 50-43 lead, but the Eagles countered with a 11-1 run to take their first lead of the game 54-51.

The Warriors cut the lead to 54-52 as sophomore guard Isaiah Gray hit 1-of-2 at the free throw line with 1:54 remaining. Gray racked up seven rebounds, three assists and four points on the night.

With 45 seconds left in the game, Eagle Cale Zuiker went one-of-two at the line for a 55-52 lead.

Riley Bambenek hit a three-pointer to come back and tie the game at 55 points with 44 seconds remaining.

UW-La Crosse’s Cale Zuiker was fouled with 32 seconds left hitting both free throws for a 57-55 advantage.

The Warriors then missed three straight shots before Bauman was fouled with 21 seconds left on the clock. He missed both shots.

Warrior fans erupted with boos when the referees called a travel on Winona State giving the ball back to UW-La Crosse with 18 seconds left in the game.

Bauman fouled out against Eagle Clint Rihn with 15 seconds left. Rihn made both free throws to end the game 59-55.

Mark Blacklock finished with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting. UW-La Crosse’s Zuiker hit five three-pointers for a game-high 26 points.

Winona State outrebounded the Eagles 38-27, with Bauman leading with 11 rebounds.

Despite the Warrior loss, head coach Mike Leaf said it will take a lot of hard work to get to where they want to be.

“It is important to set high goals. We want to win a national championship, but there is a long way to go,” Leaf said.

Gray said there are high expectations for the season.

“Each year we expect to be successful, and we work hard as a team to accomplish our goals and be at the top of the conference,” Gray said.

The Warriors return to action with two home games, with the first at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18 against Clarke University. They will take on Cardinal Stritch University at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 22.