SIOUX FALLS, SD – The Winona State men's basketball team put on a superb defensive performance to earn a 70-53 victory over MSU Moorhead and advance to Tuesday's championship game at the NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament in Sioux Falls.
The Warriors held a MSU Moorhead team that entered the game averaging 86.3 points per game while shooting 48 percent to just 53 points on 33 percent shooting from the field.
Winona State will now play in the conference tournament championship game for the seventh time under head coach Mike Leaf, taking on the winner of tonight's contest between Minnesota State and Southwest Minnesota State at 7:30 pm Tuesday.
A fan bus will be traveling to Sioux Falls for Tuesday's championship game, leaving from Winona at 2:30 pm. A spot on the fan bus can be secured by contacting the UPAC office in the lower level of Kryzsko Commons Tuesday morning. The UPAC office opens at 9 am Tuesday, with a spot on the bus costing $10.
WSU was extremely efficient on offense, shooting 52.0 percent from the floor while opening up a big lead in the first half and extending its advantage in the second. The Warriors led by 13 at halftime and kept their lead in double-digits throughout the second half, moving their advantage to as many as 23 with just under three minutes to play.
Mark Blacklock led the Warriors with 22 points, making nine of his 11 field goal attempts while also grabbing seven rebounds. The sophomore finished the game just one point short of his career high.
Kellen Taylor and Conrad Masberg each scored 14 points while grabbing five boards to help lead the Warriors into the conference tournament title game. Riley Bambenek andIsaiah Gray each chipped in eight points on the offensive end as well for WSU.
Josh Mongan also played well at the point, passing out a career-high seven assists while scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds.
Winona State is now 26-6 overall on the year, sitting alone in fifth place for the most wins in a single season in program history.
The Warriors used a 14-2 run during the latter stages of the first half to take a 42-29 advantage into the locker room at halftime. Blacklock scored 13 of his 22 points in the opening 20 minutes while Masberg added 11 as the Warriors shot 56 percent. The WSU defense was strong throughout the half, holding MSU Moorhead to just 33 percent shooting from the field.
Winona State is 5-1 in NSIC Tournament title games, winning the conference postseason crown in 2001, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011.
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