UMN Crookston ends their season with a record of 17-16, 9-14 NSIC.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Winona State University hit crucial shots down the stretch as they upended the University of Minnesota Crookston men’s basketball team 80-67 in a highly-contested NSIC tournament quarterfinal game Sun., March 3 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Golden Eagles took a 65-64 lead with 3:37 remaining, but the Warriors closed the game on a 16-2 run with clutch plays from Kevion Taylor down the stretch. Winona State was clutch from beyond the arc, where they hit 12 three-pointers at a 41.4 percent clip.

    Minnesota Crookston ends their best season in program history with a 17-16 mark. The record also marks their first winning season in their NCAA Division II history. Sunday’s game was the first NSIC/Sanford Health quarterfinals appearance for the Golden Eagles, after an upset win over NCAA Division II powerhouse Augustana University.

    Winona State improves to 14-16 with the victory, as they move on to face No. 1 seed in the NSIC North Northern State University Mon., March 4 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

    The Golden Eagles were guided by Harrison Cleary (Jr., G, Oak Creek, Wis.), who tallied 36 points on the night. Cleary was just three points shy of the NSIC Tournament record of 29 points. Cleary was 12-of-26 from the field, and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Cleary was an unblemished 8-of-8 from the stripe. Cleary ends the season with 2,076 points in his career.

    Malcolm Cohen (R-Jr., G/F, Detroit, Mich.) added 19 points and five rebounds. Cohen was 8-of-15 from the field, and 3-of-9 from distance. Josh Collins (Sr., F, Minneapolis, Minn.) added five points and nine boards, while Ben Juhl (So., G, Clive, Iowa) added five points. The Golden Eagles had just five players scored on the game.

    The Golden Eagles were 24-of-60 from the field for 40.0 percent. Minnesota Crookston shot 8-of-28 from beyond the arc for 28.6 percent. The Golden Eagles were 11-of-12 from the stripe for 91.7 percent.

    The Warriors were led by four players who tallied double-figure scoring. Caleb Wagner guided Winona State with 24 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Wagner was 8-of-16 from the field, 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, and 4-of-4 from the stripe. Charlie Koontz added 18 points, while Taylor had 16 points. Tommy Gathje notched 12 points and six rebounds.

    The Warriors shot 26-of-56 from the field for 46.4 percent. Winona State was 12-of-29 for 41.4 percent from behind the three-point line. The Warriors went 16-of-17 from the foul line for 94.1 percent.

    Winona State out-rebounded Minnesota Crookston 37-28. The Warriors had 17 assists to just nine turnovers.  

    Minnesota Crookston opened Sunday’s game on a 4-0 run with a pair of baskets from Cohen. The Warriors got on the board with a basket from Taylor and took the 5-4 lead following a triple from Wagner. Winona State extended their lead out to 8-4 as Mason Domask hit a triple.

    Cohen kept his shooting streak going in the early going as he cut the deficit to 8-7 after draining a three-pointer. The Warriors countered with a 4-0 run as they moved the lead to 12-7 following a Gathje lay-in. Cleary drained a trey to bring Minnesota Crookston back to within 12-10 with just over 13 minutes left in the first half. Winona State pushed the lead out to 13-10 on a Taylor free throw.

    The Golden Eagles pulled to within one at 13-12 after a contested jumper from Cleary. However, Winona State countered on the other end as Koontz completed the old-fashioned three-point play to push the lead out to 16-12.

    Cleary came through again through as he sank a trey to bring the game back within one at 16-15 in the first half. After a defensive stop, the Golden Eagles went back in front 17-16 with a Collins basket to complete a 5-0 spurt. Koontz stopped the quick run for Minnesota Crookston with a basket to put the Warriors ahead 18-17. Winona State extended their lead to 21-17 with a Wagner triple.

    The Golden Eagles pulled to within 21-19 on a Cleary bucket, but the Warriors responded as Domask put in a triple and Devin Whitelow put a pair in to push the Winona State lead to 26-19. A Gathje trey extended the run for the Warriors to 8-0 as they had a 29-19 lead.

    The Golden Eagles countered with a 4-0 run to trim the deficit down to 29-23 as Cohen hit a jumper. A Koontz basket halted the run and put the Warriors ahead 31-23. Minnesota Crookston responded with a Cleary old-fashioned three-point play to cut the lead to 31-26.

    A Wagner basket pushed the Winona State advantage out to 33-26. The Golden Eagles ended the half on a strong note as they utilized a 9-2 run to go into the locker room even with the Warriors at 35-35.

    Minnesota Crookston was guided in the first half by 18 points from Cleary. Cohen added 11 points, while Collins chipped in four points and five boards.

    The Golden Eagles shot 14-of-31 from the field for 45.2 percent. Minnesota Crookston was 4-of-13 for 30.8 percent from beyond the arc. The Golden Eagles were a perfect 3-of-3 from the stripe.

    Winona State was led by 10 points from Wagner, while Gathje and Koontz each contributed seven points. The Warriors were 14-of-30 from the field for 46.7 percent. Winona State shot 5-of-14 from distance for 35.7 percent.

    Winona State held the early rebounding advantage 18-14. The Warriors had great ball movement with 11 assists to just four turnovers in the opening stanza.

    Winona State broke the tie to open the second half as Gathje nailed a trey to put the Warriors head 38-35. Collins scored the first points of the second stanza for Minnesota Crookston as he went 1-of-2 from the stripe to cut the Warrior lead to 38-36. A pair of Wagner free throws pushed the Winona State lead out to 42-38.

    The Golden Eagles trimmed the deficit down to 42-40 on a bucket from Cohen, but the Warriors came back on the other end with a Wagner three-pointer to push their lead out to 45-40.

    Minnesota Crookston pared the Winona State lead down to 45-42 with a pair of free throws. The Warriors had the answer as Wagner completed an old-fashioned three-point play to extend the advantage out to 48-42.

    The Golden Eagles ended a nearly four-minute scoreless streak for both teams as Cleary drove and put in the pair to cut the deficit to 48-44. A defensive stop, Minnesota Crookston utilized a clutch triple from Juhl to cut the lead to 48-47.

    Winona State responded with an answer from Koontz to push the lead back out to 51-47. The Golden Eagles came back with a long two from Chase Johnson (R-So., F/C, La Crosse, Wis.) to trim the deficit to 51-49. After an offensive foul by the Warriors, Minnesota Crookston Cleary drove the lane for a clutch hoop to knot the tilt up 51-51.

    Winona State stopped a 4-0 run for the Golden Eagles as Wagner finished an old-fashioned three-point play to put the Warriors ahead 54-51 with 8:19 left in the game. A pair of free throws from Cleary brought Minnesota Crookston within 54-53.

    A contested Wagner three-pointer put Winona State up 57-53, but Cohen continued the back-and-forth affair with a triple of his own to cut the lead to 57-56. A pair of Taylor free throws pushed the lead out to 59-56. However, Cohen quickly countered with a trey to knot the game back up at 59-59 with seven minutes left in the game.

    Taylor helped the Warriors hold off the charge for the Golden Eagles as he drained a trey to put Winona State up 62-59. Cleary came through like he has many times on the season, as the junior delivered the old-fashioned three-point play to tie the game at 62-62.

    The Warriors took the lead back at 64-62 with a Koontz lay-in. However, Cleary again responded as he put in the triple to give Minnesota Crookston their first lead of the second half 65-64. Winona State countered as they used a Taylor triple to take the lead back at 67-65. The Warriors pushed their run to 4-0 with a Koontz bucket as the led 69-65 with under two minutes remaining in the game.

    A Cleary turnover quickly gave the ball back to Winona State. Taylor came up in a huge spot as the Warrior drained a long triple with a man right in his face as the Winona State took the 72-65 lead. Koontz iced the victory for the Warriors with a pair of free throws with 42.3 seconds remaining to go ahead 74-65. Winona State extended their stay in Sioux Falls, S.D. with the 80-67 win.

    The game was the final one for Minnesota Crookston seniors Collins, Gable Smith (R-Sr., F/C, Lodi, Wis.), Chase Knickerbocker (Sr., G/F, Annandale, Minn.), Darin Viken (Sr., G, Fosston, Minn.), Aaron Hollcraft (Sr., G, Crookston, Minn.), and All-Purpose Person Nate Lorenz, who played for the Golden Eagles for three seasons. The six players helped the Golden Eagles from three wins in the 2015-16 season to a program-record 17 wins in 2018-19. Minnesota Crookston returns 10 players to their roster as they look to build on a great season and get back to the Sanford Pentagon.