WSU Men Split Final Regular Season Home Games
From: WSU Sports Information
Photo: Craig Johnson
Winona State University saw a 15-point halftime lead evaporate on its home court Friday night as Concordia-St. Paul shot 76 percent in the second half to rally for a 75-71 victory.
After shooting 59 percent in the opening half, including a 7-for-12 effort from downtown, the Warriors went ice cold over the final 20 minutes of play, shooting just 32 percent on 3-of-13 from beyond the arc.
CSP’s Bryndan Matthews scored the Warriors for a career-best 34 points while WSU’s Caleb Wagner finished with a season-high 24 points.
Winona State falls to 11-16 (8-13 NSIC) with its third straight loss while Concordia-St. Paul improves to 9-18 (4-17 NSIC) with just its second road win of the season.
The Warriors began the night by connecting on its first three attempts from downtown to build an early 9-2 lead. WSU never trailed in the first half, but saw its lead cut to 22-21 at the seven-minute mark. From there, the Warriors went on a 17-4 run capped by three consecutive triples by Kevion Taylor.
WSU still led by as many as nine points at the 7:24 mark of the second half on a three-pointer by Tommy Gathje, but CSP continued to hang around until making its run late. With 4:10 left on the clock, the Golden Bears began to wipe out an eight-point deficit with an 11-point spurt that gave them a 72-69 advantage.
After a three-pointer by Taylor at the 4:27 mark, the Warriors failed to convert another field goal for the remainder of the contest while CSP went 6-for-7 to the final whistle to escape with the win.
The Winona State University men’s basketball team saved its best for last. Playing inside McCown Gymnasium for the final time this season, the Warriors blew out Minnesota State Mankato in their regular season finale, 84-56.
For Winona State (12-16, 9-13 NSIC) it was perhaps the Warriors’ most complete effort in what has been an up-and-down season. Playing on his home court for the final time in his WSU career, Tommy Gathje led all scorers with a season-high 22 points. Fellow senior Charlie Koontz added 10 points while establishing a new single-season scoring high. The Warriors third senior, one of the Top-20 three-point shooters in program history, Mason Domask fittingly connected on a triple in the win as WSU shot 53 percent from downtown.
A night after a disappointing loss to CSP in which the Warriors committed 11 turnovers, Winona State only had five miscues on Saturday while dishing out 19 assists to four different players reaching double digits in the scoring column. Devin Whitelow had seven assists for the second game in a row as the sophomore improved upon his assist/turnover ratio of 6.58 which is on pace to set a new NCAA record across all three divisions.
Gathje opened the scoring, and the three-point barrage, with his first of six treys on the Warriors’ opening possession. The senior began the game 5-for-6 from downtown as WSU collectively shot 7-for-11 from three-point land in the first half to take a 47-30 lead into the locker room.
With 7:32 left in the first half, Gathje drilled back-to-back threes to spark an eight-point run that gave WSU a 34-21 lead. The two sides traded shots over the final seven minutes of the period with the Warriors maintaining a double-digit lead throughout. Gathje’s three at the buzzer sent the Warriors into the break with a 17-point lead and the home team never took its foot off the gas in the second half.
It was Kevion Taylor’s turn in the second half to heat up as the sophomore connected on his first two three-point attempts of the frame. Domask, Koontz, Caleb Wagner, Alec Rosner and Dalante Peyton all joined the three-point clinic over the final 20 minutes. When Koontz hit his final three-pointer of the night with 4:24 left in the game, the Warriors were shooting 61.5 percent (16-26) from beyond the arc.
Taylor scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half and Wagner finished the game with 15 points and five assists. Taylor led the team with nine rebounds.
Despite the loss, Minnesota State 18-10 (14-8 NSIC) still won a share of the NSIC South title with Augustana and Wayne State. The Mavericks were ranked No. 7 in the first NCAA DII Central Region Poll earlier this week.
After snapping a three-game skid, the Warriors will carry positive momentum with them on the road in the NSIC Tournament. Winona State will travel to Minnesota Duluth for the first round of the tournament on Wednesday, February 27 with a tipoff set for 7:30 p.m.