Men’s basketball knocked out of tournament in close game

Allison Mueller

Dillon Hogan/ Winonan

As soon as it began, the postseason for Winona State University men’s basketball team was over. A close matchup in Wednesday’s game did not go in favor of the Warriors as their season concluded with a three-point loss to the University of Minnesota Duluth, 67-64.

Last weekend the regular season concluded with two wins against Wayne State and Augustana. Finishing the regular season 14-12 the Warriors were matched against Duluth in the opening round of the NSIC/Sanford Health tournament. The five-seeded Warriors were required to travel to Duluth to take on the fourth-seeded Bulldogs.

The first half of the ballgame was a low scoring affair that limited the Warriors to 22 points at halftime. Winona State posted a shooting percentage of 31, hitting 9 shots out of 29.

Throughout the first half the Warriors had the lead, however slim it was. With less than 12 minutes remaining in the first half the Warriors were up five points, but for the next four minutes Duluth held Winona State scoreless and ran with the lead.

With 5:34 remaining in the first half, Duluth held the lead 18-17 and made an 8-0 run to put themselves up 25-17. A three-pointer by Winona ended the Bulldog run. Going into halftime the Warriors found themselves down by seven with Duluth holding onto lead 29-22.

As the second half of the game commenced, the Warriors attempted to cut into the Duluth lead in a steady fashion. Winona State was able to take the lead over Duluth 41-40 with 14:17 left to play in the game.

The next few minutes were back and forth with five lead changes within five minutes. With less than eight minutes to play, Duluth made a run that put them up by seven points with six minutes left. Winona responded with two free throws, a tip-in and a jumper in the paint to cut Duluth’s lead to one point with four and a half minutes remaining.

Keeping up with the theme of the game, Duluth got their lead back up to five with 47 seconds left, only for a Winona layup to cut the lead to three.

After a foul by Winona, Duluth hit their first free throw, but missed the second. A quick break by Winona resulted in a layup that cut the lead down to one with 22 seconds left.

Another Winona foul resulted in two made free throws by Duluth, but Winona would again answer with a made jump shot reducing the lead back down to one point with 15 seconds left.

Again, Winona fouled Duluth who made both free throws to take a three-point lead with 10 seconds to play. One last three-pointer would not fall for the Warriors and the clock expired with Duluth getting the 67-64 win.

Riley Bambenek led Winona State with 14 points, going 5-of-10 from the field and 2-of-4 for three’s. Mark Blacklock followed with 12 points on the night while Isaiah Gray added 11 points.

Following the loss to Duluth, Winona State ends its season with a 14-13 overall record. This marks the 12th straight winning season for the program.