Men’s basketball opens season with split

Men's basketball opens season with split

Clara Kuerschner, Sports Reporter

Winona State University men’s basketball hit the road this weekend to compete in their first tournament of the season, as well as their first regular season games.

“I think we are ready to start playing against teams other than ourselves and it will be a good experience to be tested with two quality opponents,” junior Tommy Gathje said.

They played Missouri Western State University on Nov. 10 and Washburn University on Nov. 12.  The games were part of the 26th Annual Hillyard Tip-Off Classic Tournament in St. Joseph, Missouri.

“I am excited, it will be nice to have team bonding outside of Winona. I just know there will be a lot of sleeping on the bus for sure,” Whitelow said.

Their game on Friday proved to be a hard fought win for the Warriors. The first half ended with both teams scoring 27 points. Senior Corey Jeffs and Gathje both scored back-to-back three pointers to break Missouri Western’s lead in the twenty minutes.

The second half also ended in a tie of 62 points, sending the game into overtime. Junior Connor Flack made the game tying layup for the Warriors at the end of the first half. Gathje made the game winning shot for the team during overtime. The ending score was 71-67.

“I think Missouri Western will be a good first game for us. They are an experienced team with a lot of returners. It will be tough because they are at home, but I think we have a great chance to win if we play how we are capable,” Gathje said prior to the game.

The game on Sunday, Nov. 12 started off the first half strong, retaining a lead of 36-35 by the end of the twenty minutes. First-year Devin Whitelow put the Warriors on the board with the first three-point shot of the game. Flack also made a three-point shot to widen the gap between the Warriors and the Washburn Ichabods with 7:40 left in the first half. Whitelow came in to maintain the five-point lead Flack established with a basket two minutes later.

“I was very nervous. I knew the game was going to be played at a different level than I was used to but I was also excited for the challenge,” Whitelow said about his first collegiate tournament.

However, the men were not able to maintain their lead through the second half.  The Warrior lead was held for the first five minutes of the half but Washburn came back from halftime with renewed energy and made their comeback to win 84-75.

Even though this weekend was mostly business for the team, they also looked forward to the bonding that a long bus ride provides.

The first home game of the regular season is on Thursday, Nov. 16 in McCown Gymnasium at 7 p.m against Grand View University