Wagner sees career-high in loss

Christopher Edwards, Basketball Reporter

Winona State University’s men’s basketball team came into this weekend riding a three-game winning streak and also winning seven of the last nine games.

The Warriors had to take their streak on the road where they have struggled in the past, and in the first game against the Southwest Minnesota State University they came out cold.

The team was down seven in the opening minutes before sophomore guard Luke Martens hit a three-pointer.

The Mustangs held a lead for majority of the first half until 1:46 left when the Warriors took a lead. At halftime Winona State held a 29-28 lead.

The Warriors were trailing majority of the half because they struggled shooting from the field only making eight of 25 shots. However, they were able to take the lead because seven of those made shots came from three-point range.

Junior forward Kevion Taylor led the team in points with 12 and three made three-pointers.

The Mustangs shot over 40% and outrebounded the Warriors 19-15.

The second half began close like the first.

Winona State grew their lead to seven after a three-point shot made by Taylor. That lead was cut to two seconds later.

With 15 minutes left, both teams went cold as there were only two shots made from the field in a four-minute stretch.

With 8:18 left the game was tied at 44-44, as the Warriors would then gain a four-point lead. The Mustangs would get it down to a point with 3:30 left in regulation.

Winona State would then go on a 12-5 run to close out the game.

Taylor came up big in the second half, adding 15 points to finish the game with 27.

The second game was against Sioux Falls who lead the south region Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) with a 15-5 record.

Senior guard Caleb Wagner came out firing, hitting a three to begin the game. He scored eight of the first 11 points for the Warriors giving them the early lead.

Wagner remained hot as he helped give the Warriors a double-digit lead early in the half.

The Cougars would take a one-point lead with 4:32, but the Warriors regained the lead and had a 33-32 lead at the half.

After shooting under 30 percent the night before, Wagner came up for the Warriors big, scoring a team-high 21 points in the half.

The first half was a slug fest with both teams shooting over 44% from three-point range and the field in general.

The second half stayed within three points until Wagner gave the Warriors a four-point lead with 8:30 left in regulation.

Later on in the second half, the Cougars would get a two-point lead with 2:37 left following a three-point play.

On the following possessions Taylor hit back to back threes to give the Warriors the lead back.

With 43 seconds left, the Warriors would hold a 71-66 lead after Taylor split his free throws.

Despite the seven points by Taylor, the Cougars tied the game.

Following, a made three and a missed layup by Taylor led to a fast break bucket for Sioux Falls with three seconds left.

The Warriors would miss shot at the buzzer.

In overtime, the Cougars got the tip and hit a pair of free throws to take the lead.

Taylor would respond with a three-pointer to take the lead back.

The Cougars got a layup to regain the lead and kept it for majority of overtime.

The Warriors got a shot to take the lead back as Wagner’s sixth made three-pointer cut the lead to one with seven seconds left.

A quick foul by Martens sent the Cougars to the free throw line where they hit both attempts and pushed the lead to three with six seconds left.

On the Warriors next possession, Wagner would connect on two attempts from free throw line following a foul on a layup attempt.

The ensuing possession trailing by one Wagner would intentionally foul to send the Cougars back to the free throw line where they would split free throws and take the 87-85 win after not giving the Warriors another possession.

Wagner went off for a career-high 47 in the loss, which is tied for second most points in a game in team history.

Wagner and Taylor accounted for 73 of the team’s 87 points.

“It felt good to start the game out hot after struggling the night before to gain confidence back and then continuing to keep it going throughout the game,” Wagner said. “Obviously I would have rather won the game then have had a career-performance. The game was a big game and wish we got the W, but it was still a fun game to be a part of and was a game I won’t forget.”

So, what went wrong for the Warriors in Wagner’s breakout performance?

“We played 39 solid minutes of defense in regulation and the last minute when we were up five we just had to many breakdowns defensively in a row,” Wagner said. “Definitely something we will learn from and use to fuel us coming up in the rest of the games.”

The Warriors will return home next Friday at 7:30 p.m. to host University of Minnesota-Duluth and will remain in Winona on Saturday against Saint Cloud University with tip-off at 5:30 p.m.

 

*All opinions expressed are of the Winonan staff. They do not necessarily reflect those of the college, university, system, or student body.*