MANKATO, Minn. – Grant Johnson hit a jumper with 20 seconds remaining in overtime to help lift Winona State to a 76-73 victory against Minnesota State-Mankato in the championship game of the NCAA Central Region Tournament on Tuesday.
The Warriors will now move on to the NCAA quarterfinals in Louisville, Kentucky. WSU will play West Liberty on March 28.
Xavier Humphrey drove the lane with 26 seconds remaining in regulation and the Warriors down three, getting the layup and drawing the foul. He knocked down the free throw to tie the contest at 64 and send the game into overtime.
Once there, both teams traded baskets until Johnson’s winning shot put WSU up 74-73. Humphrey iced the game with a pair of free throws with five seconds to play, sending the Warriors to the quarterfinals for the fourth time in school history.
Winona State is now 4-0 in NCAA Region Championship games, also winning the regional championship in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Both teams played extremely hard, trading baskets and leads throughout. The lead changed 20 times during the game, with the largest advantage a six-point Warrior lead with 13:25 to go in regulation.
Clayton Vette led all scorers with 22 points as five Warriors reached double figures scoring. Vette hit 9 of 16 shots from the floor while also grabbing six rebounds and was named the regional tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Taylor Cameron ended the game with 15 points and eight rebounds while Kellen Taylor and Johnson each scored 11.
Humphrey scored 13 points in the game, becoming the 34th player in Winona State history to reach the 1,000 point mark. He now has 1,011 points in his Warrior career.
Winona State is now 27-7 on the season, the fourth-most wins in a year in program history.