Losses round out men’s basketball season

Allison Mueller

Adam Kirk / Winonan

The Winona State University men’s basketball team closed out their regular season with back-to-back losses on Friday and Saturday last week.

Friday night the Warriors lost 70-87 against the Augustana University Vikings.

Senior Riley Bambenek led the Warriors with 16 points and senior Isaiah Gray added 14 points. Senior Josh Mongan scored 13 points while shooting 80 percent in the game.

The Vikings’ offense proved to be too much for the Warriors to handle in the first half as they built a 48-31 lead by halftime.

In the second half, Augustana increased their lead to 20 points and Winona State was unable to cut the deficit to fewer than 15.

The Vikings held a significant advantage inside, outrebounding the Warriors 40-23. Their rebounding advantage helped them score 14 second-chance points compared to Winona State’s four.

Winona State traveled to Wayne, Neb. to face the Wayne State College Wildcats, losing 59-74.

“We didn’t play well either night,” head coach Todd Eisner said. “When a team does not compete or play with a toughness level needed to have a chance for success at the college level, then what we are experiencing as a team happens.”

The Warriors have now lost three consecutive games and five of their last six.

“This has been a very challenging season for many reasons,” Eisner said. “None of us, coaches

or players, have handled the adversity very well.”

Winona State finished seventh out of eight teams in the NSIC-South, with a final record of 8-14 in conference play.

The Warriors were once again led by Bambenek Saturday as he finished with a team-high of 12 points against the Wildcats. He has scored in double figures in five consecutive games. Gray and Mongan each added nine points.

As a team, Winona State struggled to on the offensive end. The team shot 38 percent from the field while Wayne State shot 49 percent.

The Wildcats held the Warriors to 20 first-half points, as Bambenek was the only Warrior to score more than one field goal in the half. Winona State shot 7-22 in the opening half.

An early 10-2 run in the second half increased Wayne State’s lead. The Warriors cut the lead down to 10, midway through the second half. The Wildcats finished the game by outscoring the Warriors down the stretch, finishing with a 15-point victory.

The NSIC tournament begins on Wednesday and the Warriors will face Northern State University – a team that finished the season towards the top of the NSIC-North. The game will be played in Aberdeen, S.D. at 8 p.m.

In the two teams’ only meeting during the season, Northern State walked away with an 85-58 victory.

Following a Warrior win on Wednesday, they would play again on Sunday, facing the winner of Augustana and Bemidji State University.

By Adam Kirk