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A slow start to both halves proved too much for the Marauders to overcome.

Winona State burst out of the starting blocks quicker in both the first and second halves on Saturday, allowing the Warriors to post a 71-62 Northern Sun men’s basketball victory at the McDowell Activity Center.

“The first five minutes of both halves weren’t g,” U-Mary coach Joe Kittell said. “Give Winona all the credit in the world for both of those starts. They execute their offense to perfection. We made a slight error by not chasing, a slight error by not rotating and all of a sudden, they make them.

“They make those shots. They’re a high-percentage team. They’re very disciplined in what shots they want to take.”

Winona State raced out to a 17-8 lead five minutes into the game and built a 17-point lead at 31-14.

Long-range shooting helped the Warriors take charge early. Winona hit three 3-pointers in the opening burst and connected on 10 of 27 from beyond the arc.

“For a long time, we were guarding them pretty well,” Kittell said. “They’re going to shoot 30 and make 10, and it makes it a hard night.”

The Marauders spent the whole night trying to claw back into the game, and they used a strong finish to the first half to get back in striking distance at the break. U-Mary finished the first half on a 12-3 run to get within seven points – 33-26 – at the intermission.

“We had 9 of 11 stops to end the first half,” Kittell said. “In the second half we did some really good things and they just made plays.”

But the Warriors came out of the locker room on a 12-2 run, pushing their lead to 45-28.

“I’m proud of the effort. I wish we would have had more energy in both of those starts,” Kittell said. “For whatever reason we were a little flat. But I give Winona credit for that because they came out and executed exactly what they tried to execute.”

Tommy Gathje led Winona State (15-7, 10-6 NSIC) with 18 points, hitting three 3-pointers. Kevion Taylor added 13 points and Corey Jeffs added 12 points.

“Give them credit. They came out and executed a game plan on the road and played well,” Kittell said. “I wish our guys would have had a little more energy but we didn’t quit, we didn’t give up. We fought to the end.”

Sixteen turnovers hurt the Marauders, who managed only 43 field goal attempts to Winona’s 58.

“They disrupted us,” Kittell said. “That’s what they do, that’s how they guard.  They disrupted us in some flow and some things we’re usually pretty good at.”

Still, U-Mary battled back,

Down by 19 points – 61-42 – with eight and a half minutes to go, the Marauders used a 16-5 run to pull within 66-58 on a Keith Hunter 3-pointer with 1:45 left before the Warriors hung on for the win.

Hunter had a huge game for the Marauders. The 6-foot-3 junior from Oakland, Calif., finished with 30 points, sinking 12 of 20 shots from the field – including 6 of 10 from 3-point range. He also had four rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot.

“When people do anything like that to Keith, when they do anything that he can split or anything where he can kind of get a head of steam, he’s very, very good,” Kittell said. “Tonight we thought he could get it going a little bit offensively. We knew there was a chance of a good night for him with the way they were guarding the ball screens.”

Trevor Zacher hit 4 of 5 from 3-point range and finished with 14 points to go along with a team-high six rebounds for the Marauders (5-15, 3-13 NSIC).

U-Mary goes on the road the next two weeks – starting with a trip to Sioux Falls and Southwest Minnesota State next weekend.

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