Warriors lose close weekend games

Allison Mueller

Adam Kirk / Winonan

First-year Warrior Caleb Wagner looks to pass the ball to a fellow teammate against Augustana College this past Saturday. The Warriors lost 71-73 Saturday after a close 63-66 loss the night prior. (Photo by Samantha Stetzer)
First-year Warrior Caleb Wagner looks to pass the ball to a fellow teammate against Augustana College this past Saturday. The Warriors lost 71-73 Saturday after a close 63-66 loss the night prior. (Photo by Samantha Stetzer)

Winona State University’s men’s basketball team suffered a 3-point loss Friday and a 2-point loss the following night in last weekend’s pair of home games.

The Warriors faced the Wayne State University Wildcats (6-13) in McCown Gymnasium Friday, Jan. 20, losing in overtime 63-66. Winona State led by 10 points late in the second half but failed to hold on to the lead as Wayne State also scored 10 points, sending the game into overtime.

In the overtime period, the Wildcats were able to pull ahead scoring most of their points at the free-throw line. Winona State senior guard Riley Bambenek made a 3-point shot to bring the Warriors within three, but the home team was unable to score again.

Sophomore forward Tommy Gathje led the Warriors in scoring with 15 points. Sophomore guard Connor Flack, who has also picked up his play as of late, added 12 points. Both Gathje and Flack have taken advantage of extra playing time as the team deals with injuries.

On Saturday the Warriors faced Augustana University (14-6) and finished two points away from what would have been one of their biggest wins of the season. Winona State led by as many as 15 points in the second half, but saw their lead dwindle away in the final minutes for the second time in as many games.

Head coach Todd Eisner reflected on the team’s inconsistent plays this season.

“We aren’t playing with the consistency needed at either end of the floor to be as successful as we would like in the NSIC,” Eisner said.

With five minutes left in the second half, Augustana took the lead, making three consecutive 3-point field goals. Both teams continued to battle and Augustana led by one with less than a minute remaining.

The Warriors came up with a stop, but were not able to secure the rebound that was tipped out to the 3-point line. The Vikings maintained possession of the ball and with two free throws and held a 3-point advantage.

With four seconds left Bambenek dribbled down the court and put up a last-second attempt and was fouled on the 3-point shot. Bambenek hit the first of three free throws but was too strong on the second, as the ball bounced out off the back rim. He intentionally missed the third to allow for a tip-in but the ball did not hit the rim, giving possession back to Augustana.

Gathje and Flack led the Warriors in scoring for the second consecutive night. Gathje scored 19 points and Flack added 14.

Saturday night marked the team’s third consecutive loss and the Warriors have dropped five of their last six games.

Winona State University will host Minot State on Friday and University of Mary on Saturday continuing their four-game home stand. Both visiting teams share a NSIC record of 6-8 on the season.

By Adam Kirk