WINONA, Minn. – In the first game of the season, UW-La Crosse’s men’s basketball team started slow, but finished where it wanted – with a win.
The Eagles came back to defeat Division II Winona State 59-55 on Saturday at McCown Gymnasium.
The Eagles were getting blown out for over a half. Down 15 with under 15 minutes to go, however, the comeback began led by Cale Zuiker (left).
The Marshfield, Wis., native scored six during the 14-3 run to pull within 47-43. He hit two more 3s after that, before teammate Trent Schmidt tied the game at 51-51 with a pair of free throws at the 2:46 mark.
The teams went back and forth after that. Kenny Finco hit a 3 to give UW-L the lead. Trempealeau, Wis. native Riley Bambenek tied it for WSU with a 3 of his own with 44 seconds left.
With 32 seconds remaining, Zuiker hit a pair of free throws to give UW-L a 57-55 lead and some madness ensued.
Bambenek came down and missed a jump shot. Winona’s Isaiah Gray got the offensive rebound, missed, got his own board and missed again.
WSU still wasn’t done. Teammate Kyle Bauman got that rebound and was fouled. With 21 seconds left, he missed a pair of free throws, and the madness continued.
On Bauman’s second miss, WSU’s Conrad Masberg got the board, but he immediately turned the ball over and that was finally the end for the Warriors.
Onalaska’s Clint Rihn wound up with the ball, was fouled and sealed it with a pair of free throws – his only points of the game after an 0-for-4 night from the field.
Zuiker finished with 26 points, including 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc and a 9-for-13 night at the line. Connor De Bruin scored 12 for UW-L, which shot 36.4 percent from the field
Winona State was led by Bambenek’s 19, while Winona High graduate Mark Blacklock added 13 points. The Warriors shot 39.6 percent from the field, but just 6 of 14 from the line. They outrebounded the Eagles 38-27, but UW-L won the battle at the line going 18-for-25.