Kieck sees career-high in weekend split

Lauren Lott, Sports Reporter

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Winona State University’s women’s basketball faced off against two conference opponents this last weekend, competing against University of Minnesota Crookston Friday, Jan. 18 and Bemidji State University Saturday, Jan. 19.

The Warriors fought hard against both teams but were only able to come away with one win against Crookston.

Down by 11 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Winona State managed to gain momentum on offense to turn the game into a come-from-behind win by 12 points, 76-64.

“Foul trouble bothered us the first three quarters against Crookston and didn’t allow [Novotny] and [Kieck] to stay on the floor much which limited our transition and offensive rebounding opportunities,” head coach Scott Ballard said. “In the fourth quarter, our defense got a lot of stops and we got the ball to Emily quickly for many transition opportunities leading to the big quarter and the win.”

Sophomore Emily Kieck had a standout game with a career-high 23 points, scoring 17 of those in the fourth quarter comeback.

“We were so effective in the fourth quarter because our energy level was high and we kept our focus,” Kieck said. “We didn’t give up on ourselves when we got down by double digits, we realized we had to bring more to the table at that point. As a team we also locked down on defense, got rebounds and finished the easy scores, that’s what brought us back into the game.”

The Winona State defense was so effective that Crookston was only able to get off two shots at the beginning of the quarter, with no field goals for the final eight minutes of the game.

The Warriors were 18-20 from the free throw line and shot a season-high 46 percent from three-point range in the win.

“We have struggled all season with consistent shooting from three-point land, but went 6-13 in that game,” Ballard said.

Seniors Rachel Novotny and Kayla Schaefer also were efficient offensively, shooting 13 and 11 points in the game.

The Warriors were unable to find the same kind of rhythm on offense against Bemidji State Saturday.

The two teams seemed evenly matched throughout the contest, always keeping the score fairly even. Whenever the Warriors seemed to fall behind, they always made their way back, but were unable to get ahead losing 57-61.

“We actually only turned the ball over four times against their press, but we had some silly or careless turnovers at times in the half court which led to some easy scores for them,” Ballard said. “We did a better job of not allowing dribble drives into the lane that led to kick out passes on the perimeter for three-point shots. Unfortunately, we missed eight open layups during the course of the game that came back to haunt us.”

Schaefer, Novotny and Kieck were also the high scorers of this game scoring 11, nine and seven points.

“Our defense has been very good most of the season,” Ballard said. “Our rebounding, shot selection and free throw shooting has improved greatly since we came back from Christmas. However, we have lost two close games on the road and have difficulty playing four good quarters on offense.”

These two games bring Winona State’s record to 8-8 (6-6 NSIC). They will return home next weekend for a pair of games against Southwest Minnesota State University on Friday, Jan. 25, and University of Sioux Falls on Saturday, Jan. 26 at home.