Wildcat teams win on the road at Crookston
The Wayne State men’s and women’s basketball teams came home with wins on Saturday at Minnesota Crookston, with the ladies winning 67-60 and the men taking an 85-74 decision in Crookston, Minn.
In the women’s game, the Wildcats got a season-high 16 points from senior guard Kacie O’Connor to fend off a Golden Eagles comeback and earn their 20th win of the season.
The Wildcats trailed just once in the ball game, 5-4, following a 3-pointer by Caitlin Michaelis 2 1/2 minutes into the game. The Wildcats shot 8-of-16 from the floor to take a 20-13 first-quarter lead.
Crookston cut the Wildcat lead to two in the second quarter, but Wayne State pushed the lead back to seven at 27-20 following an O’Connor jumper with 2:42 to play in the quarter and led 27-23 at intermission.
Wayne State led by as many as eight early int he third on a Halley Busse 3-pointer, but Crookston got the lead down to two at 36-34 before baskets by Paige Ballinger, Maggie Lowe and Andrea Larson got the lead back to eight at 42-34. Crookston got as close as four early in the fourth quarter, but O’Connor hit a 3-pointer to help push the lead back to 10 and the Wildcats were 8-of-12 from the floor and 6-of-8 from the line in the final period to come away with the win and improve to 20-6 overall and 14-4 in NSIC play.
O’Connor led in scoring with a season-high 16 points to go with a career-high four steals as Wayne State hit the 20-win mark for the seventh time in 10 seasons under coach Chris Kielsmeier. Freshman forward Erin Norling and junior reserve forward Andrea Larson each added 10 points in the win.
Ballinger grabbed six boards for WSC with Norling adding five. Maggie Schulte was credited with five of Wayne State’s 13 assists while Ballinger had two of the teams’ four blocked shots.
In the men’s game, junior guard Trevin Joseph poured in a season-high 26 points, going 8-of-12 from the field and 9-of-10 at the free throw line to help get the Wildcats back to .500 at 13-13 overall and 8-10 in the NSIC.
The Wildcats, trailed 35-34 at intermission, but heated up in the second half and shot 57 percent from the floor, taking advantage of a 46-18 edge on points in the paint to rally for the win.
After building an eight-point lead (20-12) early in the first half and holding the lead for most of the first half, Wayne STate found themselves trailing at halftime as Minnesota Crookston rallied for a 35-30 lead late in the half before finishing with a 35-34 advantage.
The second half was tight throughout, and Wayne State took the lead for good with a seven-point surge, capped by a Matt Thomas 3-pointer with 12:37 to go to make it 52-45. Crookston got within two at 56-54, but Wayne State pulled away in the lsat five minutes, leading by as many as 10 and going 15-of-17 from the free throw line in the second half to finish off the win.
Joseph’s season-high 26 points led the Wildcats in scoring. Kendall Jacks contributed 18 points in the win while Austin Esters and Tony Bonner each accounted for 12.
Wayne State held a slim 34-32 edge in rebounding over the Golden Eagles thanks to eight boards from Jacks and seven by Bonner. Vance Janssen had three assists for the Wildcats while Joseph and Matt Thomas each had two steals.
The Wildcats are home for the final time in the regular season next weekend, hosting Southwest Minnesota State Friday night at 6 and 8 p.m. and Sioux Falls Saturday at 4 and 6 p.m. at Rice Auditorium.