Sam Thiel/ Winonan
For Connor Nagle, her first basket on Wednesday was the biggest one for the night and in her career.
With just 1.6 seconds remaining, Nagle connected on a three-pointer to send Winona State University women’s basketball team to the second round of the NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament with a 67-62 victory over the University of Mary at home. Nagle also reached a milestone in the process, making the 100th three-pointer of her career.
The Warriors followed their opening win of the tournament with a loss on Saturday against Minnesota State University Moorhead 93-84.
In Wednesday’s game freshman forward Hannah McGlone made seven of her 12 attempts for a career-high 19 points, including going 5-of-7 from the free throw line as well as grabbing a team-best eight rebounds. Sophomore center Kayla Timmerman tied a career-high of six blocks, passing Bernie Roskop for fourth on Winona State’s all-time blocks in a single season with 56. She now needs 11 more to tie for third with Amanda Brown.
“Scoring-wise getting to the basket and going up strong has been what we worked on all season,” McGlone said. “I don’t think it got easier to get the shots, but seeing what shots they were giving up became more obvious.”
The game was a constant battle that saw 20 lead changes between the two teams.
Tara Roelofs started the game with a triple on the Warriors’ first possession to give Winona State a 3-0 lead in the early stages, but the Marauders reclaimed the advantage throughout the next couple of minutes. Roelofs connected on another three-pointer to give Winona State the lead 12-11 with 15:03 left in the half.
U-Mary got the lead back with consecutive triples to give the Marauders a 17-12 lead, but the Warriors answered back with their bench play.
Timmerman and Jenny Weiland came off the bench to provide energy for the Warriors. Timmerman hit a pair of shots from the paint and Weiland put in a layup after a Timmerman dish to give Winona State an 18-17 advantage.
The Marauders answered with a 5-0 run of their own, but the Warriors had outscored U-Mary 13-2 over 5:32 to give Winona State a 31-24 advantage.
U-Mary ended the first half with a 5-0 run capped by a buzzer-beater three-pointer to cut the deficit 31-29 as the teams headed into the locker rooms.
The Marauders continued their strong finish to start the second half, going on a 10-5 spurt to post a 39-36 advantage with 16:23 left.
A Roelofs three-pointer tied the game at 43 with 13:21 remaining. The rest of the game would be tight as it featured 11 lead changes and six ties.
With 3:56 left McGlone connected on a pair of baskets, the first being a layup in traffic to put the Warriors up 59-58 and the other being another layup to give Winona State a 61-60 lead with 1:27 remaining.
The Warriors came away with a huge defensive stop as Timmerman swatted a shot to give her six on the game. McGlone then hit one of her two free throws on the ensuing possession to give Winona State a 62-60 lead with just 52 seconds remaining.
The Marauders responded with 42 seconds left thanks to a Brittney Dietz layup to knot the game up at 62 to set up the dramatic end.
With a 12 second difference in the game and shot clock, the Warriors had trouble running a play and got the ball knocked out of bounds with just one tick on the shot clock. Nagle dished it into Roelofs whose three-point shot hit the rim. Alexis Foley came away with the offensive rebound and Winona State called a timeout.
The Warriors tried to get Timmerman to post up in the paint, but she was immediately triple teamed. She dished it out to Nagle, who released a three with a defender in her face and found the bottom of the net with 1.6 seconds left.
“I actually had no idea that it was my 100th three,” Nagle said. “My mindset during the last play was let it fly. At that point in the game, it was tied, and that’s all I could do. Shoot it and not think about it.”
After some chaos and a few minutes of official review, U-Mary had improperly inbounded the ball, thus giving the ball back to Winona State. The Marauders immediately fouled Timmerman on the ensuing possession, where she connected on a pair of free throws to help the Warriors advance to the second round.
The trio of McGlone, Roelofs and Timmerman led the way in double figure scoring, with Roelofs pouring in 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the field including 4-of-8 from the three-point line. Timmerman recorded 15 points after hitting five of her 10 shots from the floor. She made all five of her free throws to go along with her seven boards and six blocks. Foley grabbed seven boards and posted a team-best four assists and two steals.
“I was most proud of our team for staying focused and finding ways to make plays in late game and late clock situations,” head coach Scott Ballard said. “Once again our depth and bench play factored in to winning this game.”
Despite a career-high 24 points from sophomore Tara Roelofs and a furious comeback attempt on Saturday, it was not enough. Winona State was eliminated from in the quarterfinals in Sioux Falls with a 93-84 loss to Moorhead.
Roelofs provided a spark in the closing minutes, posting the most points in her Winona State career. She ended the night 8-of-14 from the floor, including four triples. Connor Nagle chipped in 21 points with four three-pointers as well.
Unfortunately, the Dragons’ Heather Strese had a career night, scoring 36 points while snatching 13 rebounds. The Warriors were outrebounded 42-23 on the night.
Winona State hit 32.14 percent of its first half shots while Moorhead knocked down 46.88 percent. Consecutive triples by the Dragons made the score 22-12, and Winona State would be behind the rest of the game.
The Warriors cut the deficit to 22-18 with a 6-0 run and later cut it to 25-21 thanks to a three-point play by Weiland. Moorhead increased their advantage 30-22 as Winona State found themselves outrebounded by a margin of 20-8. Nagle and Roelofs each nailed three-pointers near the halftime mark to cut the deficit to single digits heading into halftime, 39-32.
The Warriors began the final 20 minutes with a 10-3 run to cut the deficit to one, 43-42. The Dragons answered back using an 8-0 run to take a 51-42 lead.
The Warriors made it a one-possession game thanks to a three-point play from Foley to make it 55-52 with just over 12 minutes left. Winona State would not get any closer as the Dragon lead was double digits with six minutes to go, cutting off any chances of a comeback.
As for statistics, Foley was the third Warrior in double figures, making six of her 18 shots for 16 points as well as tying a career-best with seven assists.
Winona State University ends its season at a record of 20-8, the fifth 20-win campaign in team history. All five have come under head coach Scott Ballard.