The Winona State women's basketball team had lost four straight since defeating nationally-ranked Sioux Falls on the road three weeks ago. On Friday night inside McCown Gymnasium, the Warriors shook off their slump with a 73-59 victory over the same No. 12-ranked Cougars.
Emma Fee drilled the opening bucket of the contest en route to 15 points as the Warriors never looked back in a wire-to-wire win. The junior center was 6 of 6 from the field and pulled down a team-best nine rebounds.
Winona State improves to 15-8 (11-8 NSIC) while sending Sioux Falls to a record of 22-4 (15-4 NSIC). It marked the first road loss of the season for USF. Despite the setback, the Cougars were still able to celebrate claiming the NSIC South Championship on Friday.
The Cougars cut into the Warriors' lead, 58-52, to open the fourth quarter, but the home team successfully worked the clock and went on a 7-0 run over the next six minutes to stretch the lead to 13 points and put Sioux Falls to bed.
The Warriors recorded five offensive rebounds in the final frame to eat up more clock and keep the game in their favor. Emily Kieck iced it by going 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the final two minutes.
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The Warriors shot 93.8% (15 of 16) from the line in the win, their best output of the season. Collectively, WSU owned a 35-30 rebounding advantage, including nine offensive boards.
Winona State started the game hot, shooting 60 percent (9 of 15) in the first quarter with a 3-for-6 mark from behind the arc. Allie Pickrain was everywhere in the opening frame, scoring five points while tallying three assists as well as a steal. The junior guard finished the night with a game-high 20 points.
The Cougars showed why they are the No. 12-ranked team in the nation in the second quarter as they outscored the Warriors, 17-11. A Pickrain three broke a 27-27 tie with 3:04 left, and then, with the Warriors leading by just one, Caitlin Riley hit a jumper in the paint right before the half to give the Warriors a 34-31 advantage heading to the locker room.
The Warriors managed to keep the pesky Cougars at bay the entire third quarter, hitting free throws and creating turnovers anytime Sioux Falls was attempting to build momentum. Kieck, who scored all 12 of her points in the second half, quieted the Sioux Falls’ fans in attendance with a crafty layup to beat the third-quarter buzzer.
Winona State returns to action on Saturday afternoon with its final home contest of the regular season against Southwest Minnesota State University. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m. in Winona.