Warriors suffer losses from top two teams

Allison Mueller

Adam Kirk / Winonan

The Winona State University men’s basketball team was not up to the task of upsetting the two best teams in the NSIC North this weekend.

Friday night the Warriors suffered a 63-85 loss to the Minnesota State University Moorhead Dragons and on Saturday suffered a 58-85 loss to the Northern State University Wolves.

According to head coach Todd Eisner, the losses were a result of repetitive flaws on the offensive end.

“We do not have anyone that can consistently make plays with the dribble or score on the block to put pressure on the defense for easy scores or to get to the free-throw line,” Eisner said.

The Warriors made 10 of their 32 3-point attempts against the Dragons, which was not enough to match the No. 1 team in the NSIC North.

Moorhead led from start to finish Friday night. Winona State shot 40 percent from the floor and got to the free-throw line three times.

“Our lack of physicality and toughness to finish plays inside has been a major problem,” Eisner said.

Sophomores Tommy Gathje and Connor Flack led Winona State with 11 points. Sophomore Mason Domask and senior Kyle Bauman added eight points each.

Saturday night the Warriors faced Northern State and senior Riley Bambenek’s 25 points were not enough for Winona State to keep pace with their opponent’s offense. The 27-point loss was the highest differential of the season.

Winona State allowed Northern State to shoot 52 percent and gave up 12 3-pointers. The Wolves’ bench outscored the Warriors’ 44-14. It was the third time this season that the Warrior scored below 60 points.

The defensive struggles have been an ongoing problem for the Warriors this year, according to Eisner.

“We have gone from a team that led the NSIC last year in all the major defensive categories, to being a team that has not shown a desire or fight to defend too many nights,” Eisner said. “Until that changes, things will remain very challenging for our team.”

Bambenek connected on nine of his 13 shots while no other Warrior made more than three field goals. The team shot 41.5 percent and made five 3-pointers, four of them coming from Bambenek.

When asked if there were any positives to take away from facing two of the top teams in the conference, Eisner said “no.”

The Warriors have four games remaining, facing NSIC South competition the rest of the way. This weekend they will be back at home to face Concordia University, St. Paul on Friday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. and Mankato State University, Mankato on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. for the second time this season.

In their first matchup, the Golden Bears beat the Warriors 75-82. Winona State beat Mankato 89-64 in early December.

The Warriors finish the regular season on the road against Augustana University and Wayne State College the weekend of Feb. 17.

The Warriors fell to 10-12 overall and 7-11 in conference play after last weekend. They post a winning record at home, 6-5.

By Adam Kirk