Men fall short of NSIC Championship


Archived Photo

Junior guard Caleb Wagner charges toward the net in an attempt on basket during a game against the University of Sioux Falls in McCown Gymnasium.

Christopher Edwards, Sports Reporter

It is playoff time and Winona State University’s men’s basketball have brought out their best, scoring two wins and keeping their tournament hopes alive for another week.

The Warriors beat the University of Minnesota-Duluth 62-56 in the opening round of the NSIC tournament.

In the first matchup earlier in the season against the Bulldogs, the Warriors pulled out a 65-53 victory. In this outing, both teams came out cold in the opening minutes of the first half. Before the Duluth made a bucket to take the lead. Winona State would finally get on the board with back-to-back threes from senior forward Tommy Gathje.

The teams would go back and forth before the Warriors took a 17-12 lead with 8:57 left in the first half. Duluth responded by going on a 5-17 run to take seven-point lead late in the first half. Winona State would cut the deficit to two points before the end of the half.

Despite being down just 27-29, the Warriors struggled from the field, only shooting 28 percent. They also hit on seven of 20 of their three-point attempts. They also allowed the Bulldogs to shoot over 40 percent from the field, but they only hit one of six shots from beyond the arc. Winona State lost the rebound battle 15-24 in the first half. The Bulldogs committed six turnovers while the Warriors had one turnover.

In the second half, the Warriors looked to get back on track by playing tough defense and taking smarter shots. Both teams went scoreless for the opening 2:31 minutes before senior guard Mason Domask was able to tie the game 29 after a made jumper.

The Warriors were able to take their first lead since 5:48 left in first half. The team would go on a 9-2 run to extend the lead to eight points halfway through the second half. Another jumper by Domask with 8:28 left gave the Warriors a nine-point lead, which was their largest of the game.

Down the stretch the Bulldogs got back in the game by going a 17-9 run to pull them within one with 10 seconds remaining in the game. Junior guard Caleb Wagner was fouled on the next possession. Wagner was sent to the throw line and made one of two attempts to extend the lead to 58-56.

A few moments later, Wagner was again sent to the free throw line, this time missing both attempts. The Bulldogs would get the rebound but turnover the ball. Sophomore Kevion Taylor would get fouled and the Bulldogs also would get a technical. Taylor would make all four free throw attempts to hand Winona State the 62-56 win.

Domask told the Winonan the team made good adjustments in the second half to get the win.

“We kept up the intensity and physicality on D and continued taking high percentage shots” Domask said.

Since Domask is a senior, any game could be his last and he is looking to take advantage of every moment, knowing it can end at any time.

“I’m just trying to leave it all on the court and embrace every moment with my team,” Domask said.

In their second-round NSIC tournament matchup against University of Minnesota-Crookston Wednesday, the Warriors were once again victorious 80-67.

The team got revenge against the Golden Eagles, whom they lost to 66-80 earlier in the season.

The rematch began very close with both teams trading buckets. University of Minnesota-Crookston scored the first four points. Winona State would respond with eight straight points to take the lead. With 11:35 remaining in opening half the Golden Eagles took their first lead since the opening few minutes.

Then the Warriors would go on 13-2 run to take the 29-19 lead, which was the largest of the half. In the last 6:07 of the first half the Golden Eagles went on a 16-6 run to tie the game at 35 going into halftime.

The Warriors outrebounded the Golden Eagles 18-14 in the first half. Both teams shot about 45 percent from the field. Junior guard Caleb Wagner led the Warriors in points at the half with 10. Wagner also made both of his shoots from beyond the arc.

Both teams came out fast in the second half, but the Warriors were able to keep lead throughout. After Wagner, made an and-one layup that allowed the Warriors would take a six-point lead with 15:16 remaining in the first half. Winona State would go scoreless for over minutes and this let the Golden Eagles cut the lead to one.

The Golden Eagles tied the game at 51 with nine minutes remaining in regulation. After two more ties the Golden Eagles were able to take the 65-64 lead with 3:37 left in the game. However, sophomore forward/guard Kevion Taylor made a three-pointer to take the lead back with 2:35 remaining. The Warriors would take a 13-2 run to finish the game and get the 80-67 victory.

Wagner led the Warriors in points with 24 and in rebounds with seven. He also connected on four of six shoots from beyond the arc.

On Monday, Winona State headed into the NSIC Tournament Semi-Finals for a rematch against Northern State University.

In their first game of the season, the Wolves controled the action and won 79-68.

On this night, it appeared that Warriors would be in control, as they headed into halftime with an eight-point lead.

The Wolves would not stay down though, as in the second half they would outscore Winona State by nine, and taking a one-point lead at the buzzer to seal the win.

The Warriors end the season with 14-17 record, and were 9-13 in conference play.