Sam Thiel/ Winonan
The Winona State University women’s basketball team had four players in double figures, but a late second half surge doomed the Warriors as they fell 71-66 in overtime Friday in Mankato.
Connor Nagle was a key contributor to Winona State’s fast start, netting a three-pointer and a jumper to give the Warriors a 5-0 lead.
Later, Nagle nailed another triple, her second of the half, and Tara Roelofs found the bottom of the basket to pace the Warriors to a 15-6 advantage as the team hit six of its eight attempts from the field.
After a media timeout, Nagle hit three free throws, boosting the Warriors’ lead 18-6 with 13:25 remaining. With less than 10 minutes remaining the Warriors had pushed their advantage 24-12 over the Mavericks.
Roelofs hit a trio of baskets to bring the score 33-22. The Warriors would add an insurance basket to take a 13-point lead, 35-22, into the locker room.
McGlone corralled seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes for the Warriors. Nagle recorded 11 points to lead all scorers, Roelofs and Kayla Timmerman added eight and Foley posted seven for the Warriors as the Maverick players were held to under six points. The team hit 48.28 percent of its shots while limiting Mankato to 30 percent.
In the second half Winona State hit 6 of their 22 attempts from the floor, posting 27.3 percent in the second period and hitting 1-of-4 in overtime.
The Mavericks went on an 8-2 run to begin the second half after the Warriors connected on two of their first eight shots. A three-point play from Foley maintained a 10-point lead for the Warriors with more than 14 minutes left, but a triple from the Mavericks cut the deficit to five, 44-39, and again at 46-41 where Mankato gradually closed the gap and took the lead.
In the extra period the Mavericks recorded first five points, concluding with a three-pointer from Sammie Delzotto. Another basket gave Delzotto 22 points overall and Mankato’s advantage 69-66. A couple of free throws later the Winona State came up short on the night, 71-66.
Foley paced the way for the Warriors, hitting eight of her 17 attempts for 19 points while Roelofs had 14, Nagle with 13 and Timmerman with 12 to add to the Warrior effort. McGlone recorded a career-high 14 rebounds, the best by a Warrior this season. Timmerman also recorded six blocks, tying both a career-best and Winona State season best.
Head coach Scott Ballard said the Warriors struggled to make shots at the end of the game, which contributed to their loss.
“Mankato’s guards started driving at us more the second half and created some kick out opportunities for three point shots,” Ballard said. “We struggled to make shots the last 5 minutes of regulation and lost our 7 point lead.”
Winona State took on another nailbiter the following day against Concordia-St. Paul. This time the Warriors were on the winning side as they posted a 67-59 victory in the final road game of the weekend.
For the second game in a row the Warriors had four players in double figures. Alexis Foley was the leading scorer with 16 points while Tara Roelofs had 14. Connor Nagle posted 13 and Hannah McGlone contributed 12. Nagle also displayed a career-best eight assists to go along with her seven rebounds.
The Warriors opened the contest with a 4-0 lead thanks to a Caitie Zepczyk layup, but a triple by Concordia’s Anika Whiting (recording a game-high 24 points) cut the lead 5-4.
With less than five minutes remaining Concordia led 20-16, but Foley put Winona State back in front with a three-pointer and a couple of free throws.
The Golden Bears would regain the advantage 24-21, but the Warriors ended the half with a pair of baskets to take a 25-24 lead heading into the locker room.
The second half started with baskets from Zepczyk and McGlone, giving Winona State a five-point lead – the largest in the game. Each team would trade scores for the majority of the second half as the lead would never go above two. After the score read 44-44, the fifth tie of the game with a little over eight minutes left, Roelofs and Nagle would each hit threes to give the Warriors a 50-46 lead. Concordia would use another 6-0 run thanks to give the Golden Bears the lead 52-50 with 6:04 left.
Free throws from Roelofs tied the game again for the sixth time, and she followed with another jumper to give the Warriors a two-point advantage at 54-52. McGlone would connect on consecutive baskets and another Nagle triple gave Winona State an 11-0 run and put the team up 61-52 with 2:19 left. The Warriors walked away with the victory 67-59.
Winona State hit 45.5 percent of its shots (25-of-55) while limiting the Golden Bears to only 39.3 percent (22-of-56).
“Concordia is more of a half court team that relies on their post players to do the bulk of their scoring,” Ballard said. “We were able to contain that better without fouling and then our kids made a lot of really good plays and finished the last 5 minutes of the game.”
The victory guaranteed the Warriors a home game in the first round of the NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament on Feb. 25.
McGlone said, “Winning the next two upcoming games are huge for us. We want to go into tournament play with as much confidence and momentum as possible.”
Winona State (18-6 overall, 14-6 NSIC) heads home next weekend to cap off the regular season with games against Wayne State on Friday and Augustana on Saturday.