Wildcats prepare for postseason action


Photo courtesy of NSIC

The complete bracket on the women’s side for the 16-team NSIC/Sanford Health women’s basketball tournament.

Connor Ryan, Staff Writer

It had been two months exactly since the Wayne State women’s basketball team had lost a game. That defeat came at the hands of Augustana College on Dec. 20.

On Friday, the Wildcats lost to the Winona State Warriors 69-56.

The loss snapped the ‘Cats 14-game winning streak and dropped them to 23-4 overall and 17-4 in conference play.

Despite the loss, Wayne State was still able to capture the NSIC regular season conference championship. The Wildcats have now won it two years in a row and 4 times out of the last 5 seasons. They also clinched the number one seed in the upcoming NSIC Conference tournament.

Wayne State fought an up-hill battle early on, as Winona State was unbeaten at home coming into the contest.

Wayne State was never able to build a lead of more than 2 points, and was playing catchup to the Warriors all night.

The Wildcats were down at the half 35-25.

The Warriors built on that lead in the second half, at one point taking a 16 point lead at 46-28 with 13 minutes left to play.

The Wildcats made a comeback attempt and got within four at 56-52, but the Warriors then scored five straight points to put the game and Wayne States win streak away for good.

“We played really tight, we just didn’t get in sync at any point in time, we fouled too much, we made a lot of mistakes defensively,” Coach Chris Kielsmeier said of the loss. “We need to play better than that this time of year, and that’s on me.”

Senior forward Jordan Spencer was the only Wildcat to score in double digits as she collected a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman forward Paige Ballinger poured in 8 points and senior guard Ashton Yossi had 7 points of her own.

Wayne State shot 36 percent from the field, went 4-15 from beyond the three point line and 14-18 from the free throw line.

The next night, the Wildcats faced a senior-laden squad in Upper Iowa on their senior night.

The Wildcats finished off the regular season strong with a 66-52 victory, improving to 24-4 overall and 18-4 in conference play.

The Wildcats controlled most of the first half and led at half 30-21.

In the second half, the Wildcats dominated, opening up a 20 point lead at one point before cruising to the 14 point victory.

“On the road is a difficult place to play,” Kielsmeier said. “It’s senior day, there’s a lot of emotion in the building and our kids handled that and found a way to win.”

Leading the way for the second straight night for the Wildcats was Spencer with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Ballinger poured in 12 points of her own and collected 5 rebounds, Yossi had 11 points and 4 assists, and senior forward Millie Niggeling finished with 11 points.

Kielsmeier stressed how important it is to have his team playing its best basketball at the end of the season.

“This time of year, it’s about the hottest team, it’s not necessarily the best team, it’s the team that’s playing the best,” Kielsmeier said. “We’re not playing our best basketball right now, we have to play our best game of the year on Wednesday and get hot.”


Ashton Yossi looks around for a teammate while guarded by two Winona State defenders in last Friday's loss to the Warriors.
Asia Berg
Ashton Yossi looks around for a teammate while guarded by two Winona State defenders in last Friday’s loss to the Warriors.