The University of Minnesota, Morris men’s basketball season came to a close on Wednesday as the fourth seeded Cougars fell 83-80 to the top seeded Northwestern Eagles.
Four Cougars scored in double figures led by Brendon Foss who had 19 points and 10 rebounds.
As one of the nation's best three-point shooting teams, UMM shot just 6-of-24 from behind the arc in the loss, but made up for it by getting to the foul line 24 times and hitting 12 more free throws than the Eagles. Morris outscored the Eagles 38-26 in the paint, but the Cougars were outshot with 47.8 percent shooting (11-23) from behind the arc.
The Cougars came out on fire in the first half taking a 7-3 lead before the Eagles tied the game up. With the score tied at 11, UMM went on a 7-2 run to take an 18-13 lead with 12 minutes left in the first half. Northwestern closed within two, but UMM responded by scoring six straight to extend the lead to 26-18.
The lead would get as large as 14 in the first half after an old-fashioned three-point play from Logan Orazem and a three pointer from Foss. The Eagles scored the final four points of the half to cut the lead to nine going into the break.
Out of the halftime break Northwestern hit a pair of three pointers to cut the lead to just three. The Eagles tied the game at the 16-minute mark, but did not overtake the Cougars until the 12:50 mark at 55-54. R.J.
Dean hit a pair of free throws giving the Cougars the lead, but the Eagles hit a three pointer on the next possession to take it right back. It started an 11-0 run giving Northwestern a 66-56 lead with 10:11 left. Dean converted a layup and hit a free throw with just over four minutes remaining to cut the lead two. It was the first time the lead was just one possession since Northwestern went on the 11-0 run.
After stopping the Eagles on the next possession, Ben Hoidal tied the game up with a layup. Northwestern responded with five straight points to take an 81-76 lead with 1:46 left on the clock. The Cougars cut the lead back to three on two occasions. Dean hit a layup to make it 83-80 with 17 seconds left. After a foul and a missed free throw the Cougars had a chance to tie the game but their three-point attempt missed.
Dean finished with 17 points, Orazem had 16, and Evan Reller had 11 points. Steve Birman and Hoidal had four points in their final game as a Cougar.
The Cougars finished the season with a winning record for the fifth time in six years