SIOUX FALLS, SD – The Winona State men's basketball team survived a late run by St. Cloud State to post a 78-70 victory over the Huskies Sunday in the quarterfinals of the NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament in Sioux Falls, SD.
WSU will now take on MSU Moorhead in the conference tournament's semifinal round Monday at 2:30 pm at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
The Warriors were strong on the defensive end throughout the game, holding St. Cloud State to just 32 percent from the floor while keeping the Huskies from hitting a field goal for nearly five minutes during the middle of the second half that allowed WSU to build a double-digit advantage. The Warrior defense also kept SCSU to a 25.9 percentage from behind the 3-point line, with the Huskies hitting just seven of their 27 attempts from long range.
The Huskies fought back into the game, pulling to within four, 72-68, with 1:20 to play. Josh Mongan knocked down a pair of free throws to push the Warrior lead back to six, but SCSU made a layup with 24 seconds remaining to get back to within four. The Warriors broke through the SCSU press with Mark Blacklock finishing with a dunk to put the Warriors up 76-70 with just a few ticks remaining to preserve the victory.
Riley Bambenek led all scorers with 23 points, hitting seven of his 15 field goal attempts while also drilling three shots from behind the 3-point line. The NSIC Freshman of the Year now has ten 20-point games on the season.
Mongan added a career-high 15 points while grabbing five rebounds and passing out five assists. Blacklock gave the Warriors three players in double figures, scoring 15 to go with six rebounds, including five offensive boards.
Kellen Taylor chipped in nine points, eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks as the Warriors move their record to 25-6 on the year. WSU's 25 wins ties the 2011-12 team for the fifth-most victories by a Warrior squad in a single season.
Winona State shot the ball well throughout the game, knocking down 46.7 percent (26-of-60) of its field goal attempts.
Bambenek and Mongan helped the Warriors jump out to a 36-29 lead at the half. Bambenek scored 12 points in the opening 20 minutes while Mongan added eight, including an acrobatic lay-up as the buzzer sounded to end the period.
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