‘I was a little disappointed’

Wildcats lose to Warriors and Peacocks, ending regular season


Photo by Liz Backhaus

Sophmore Austin Esters shooting a free-throw in Rice Auditorium. The Wildcats were facing Winona State and eventually lost the game.

Shawn Smith, Staff Writer

Wayne State put up a great defensive effort on Friday night at Rice Auditorium, but they could not finish with a win.  The Winona State Warriors downed the ‘Cats 75-62.

WSC’s offense started out firing on all cylinders as Matt Thomas, Vance Janssen and Jordan Cornelius hit 3-point baskets to give Wayne an early 13-8 lead.

Winona State recaptured the lead using their league-best defense and scored eight straight points (28-19).  The Warriors finished out the half with a 10-2 run and a 40-27 lead.

Despite being behind in the contest, head coach Brian Dolan said, “Our guys put forth the best defensive effort all year during the entire game.”

The Warriors dominated the majority of the second half, including owning a 54-34 lead at one point.

Wayne State managed to show some resilience as they came within 10 points (62-52) with just over five minutes to play.

However, Winona State scored the next two buckets to extend their lead and close out the contest with a victory.

“[We] never felt we were out of the game. We played the best defensive team in the league, and that’s what won them the game,” Dolan said.

Vance Janssen was the ‘Cats leading scorer with 12 points, while David Anderson had seven rebounds.

Isaiah Gray and Conrad Masberg led the Warriors with 15 apiece and Charlie Koontz had 8 boards.

A late-scoring rally secured a win for the visiting Upper Iowa Peacocks at Rice Auditorium on Senior Night Saturday evening. Wayne State fell 89-77.

UIU held a lead the whole first half.  They scored 10 of 12 points to leave WSC trailing by a 27-16 margin with 6:41 left.

The ‘Cats roared back as Tyler Nagy drained two free throws to make the score 38-36. At the break, Wayne State was down only four, 40-36.

“I was a little disappointed, defensively,” Dolan said. “We did not respect Luke Lenhart as a shooter, but the second half we did better because he went 1-4[shooting].” Upper Iowa surged early in the second and broke open a 10-point advantage (48-38).

WSC held tough and went on a 16-3 scoring run.  This gave the ‘Cats their biggest lead of the night at 54-51 with over 14 minutes still on the clock.

The Peacocks offense countered with a 12-2 run of their own, marked by a Jace Hanna 3-pointer.  UIU led 62-56.

Jordan Cornelius made a pair of free-throws to knot the game (63-63).

UIU did not let up. They took control with a 19-2 scoring run, and WSC could not come within 10 points as the final buzzer sounded.

“When we are tied or have the lead, we lower our guard a little too much,” Dolan said. “We just need more experience as a team in these types of situations to improve.”

Brian Goodwin had a season-high 17 points in the losing effort. Adam Moon had a game-high eight rebounds.

Luke Lenhart dropped 30 points for the Peacocks in the victory.  Lenhart and Denis Austin III each had six boards.

With the loss, Wayne falls to 5-23 and 3-19 in the NSIC.  Upper Iowa is 15-16 and 10-12 in league play.

The Wildcats travel to Moorhead, Minn., tonight (Wednesday) to battle North Division champion tenth-ranked MSU Moorhead in the first round of the NSIC Sanford Health Men’s Basketball Tournament.  Tipoff is at 8 p.m.