Julia Silloway’s bank shot, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the first quarter, was what the Winona State Warriors needed on Saturday.

Silloway’s 3 started an elongated 28-7 run that helped the Warriors (9-8, 7-6 NSIC) defeat Sioux Falls (13-6, 8-5) 64-50 at McCown Gymnasium.

It was almost if that bank shot turned on the Warriors’ switch to what was their best performance this season.

At the beginning of the second quarter, Winona State started a 14-2 run that lasted 6 minutes, 19 seconds and was bookended by Kayla Schaefer field goals. Schaefer had a big night, and led the Warriors with 14 points. Allie Pickrain came on strong, too, scoring 11 of her 13 points after the first quarter.

Emily Kieck hit the go-ahead shot on a transition layup with 4:08 remaining in the second quarter, and WSU did not surrender its lead after that.

“We really needed that and that gave us a boost,” WSU senior Rachel Novotny said. “It definitely changed that momentum. It got us going.”

There was little time to think whether Silloway’s shot was going to make an impact, according to Winona State coach Scott Ballard. He hoped the Warriors would make something out of it.

“We dominated in the second quarter,” Ballard said of the impact of the turnaround 3. “It makes you think maybe the tide had turned. When we finally took the lead and finally built on it, we felt good about ourselves. I thought we had good basketball IQ and played with toughness and focus. I thought we were well-prepared.”

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Friday’s 71-69 win over Southwest Minnesota State and the win on Saturday marked the first time this season in which WSU swept an NSIC weekend.

There are four more weekends before NSIC tournament play begins on Feb. 27. The Warriors will spend Super Bowl weekend at UM-Duluth and St. Cloud State.

Defense played a large key in the Warriors win, too.

The Cougars were held to a 3-for-15 clip in the second quarter, and in the second half, the Sioux Falls made 12 of 27 shots, but just 2 of 10 from 3-point territory.

The Warriors also dominated the rebounding battle, 38-26, and that included 11 offensive rebounds. Friday night’s leading scorer, Gabie Doud, had 12 total rebounds.

WSU held Cougars leading scorer Kaely Hummel (15.4 ppg entering weekend play) to six points. Schaefer and Silloway had the defensive assignment on the NSIC’s seventh-leading scorer.

“That is the first time I’ve seen Hummel get locked up,” Ballard said. “She’s their leading scorer. How are they going to make that up? You go into it not with the plan of holding her to 10 points or less, but you just want to contain her.”

The Cougars had to rely on Jessie Geer’s 15 points. Geer entered weekend play with 7.2 ppg.

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