Despite a career-high 20 points from R.J. Dean, the University of Minnesota, Morris came up short 82-77 against St. Scholastica Friday.
The Cougars shot 68 percent from the field in the second half, but 10 turnovers in the half affected the comeback attempt. Steve Birman added 14 points and Tyler Pendleton added 13.
The Cougars and Saints battled back and forth in the early going as neither team led by more than three points until CSS took a 13-8 lead six minutes into the game. Pendleton hit a three to get UMM within two at 13-11.
After the Saints took a six-point lead, Pendleton again hit a three to cut it to one possession before CSS got on a roll.
St. Scholastica went on an 11-3 run to take a 28-17 lead with eight minutes left in the half. The lead grew to as large as 30-18 before the Cougars came storming back.
Thanks to five points from Pendleton and four from Birman, UMM tied the game at 34. CSS scored the last four points of the half to go into the locker room with a 38-34 lead.
Scholastica hit a three pointer out of the gate in the second half to take a 41-34 lead, but UMM went on an 8-2 run making it 43-42. Once again the Saints responded and took another seven-point lead shortly after.
CSS kept a two-possession lead for a majority of the second half until back-to-back layups by Dean and Birman brought UMM to within two. Down 73-70 Pendleton hit a pair of free throws and Dean hit a three pointer to give UMM the 75-73 lead with just over two minutes left. It was the Cougars' first lead since the opening five minutes of the game.
St. Scholastica did not let the Cougars keep the lead as their defense forced Morris into three turnovers.