Cougar conference winning streak snapped at home
MORRIS - The University of Minnesota, Morris women's basketball team's conference winning streak was snapped by a buzzer beater from visiting Martin Luther for a 75-73 loss in Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) action Saturday.
The loss drops the Cougars out of first place in the UMAC, while also snapping their 29-game conference winning streak that spanned three seasons. The loss is their first in conference play since a 63-53 setback to Northland on Jan. 8, 2010. It is also their first league loss at home since the 2008-09 season.
A night after the Cougar men were sunk on a buzzer beater, the women suffered the same fate, as the Knight's Kirsten Micheal hit the game-winner as the buzzer sounded and the backboard lights flashed.
In a match-up of the last two unbeatens in conference play, the game matched the hype. Even before the final seconds, the Cougars had already survived a Knight scare, regaining the lead after Morris saw its 15-point advantage erased.
Before Martin Luther could hit the winner though, the Cougars' Emily Mehr hit a pair of free throws to pull the score tied at 73-73 with less than 10 seconds left. This was just over a minute after Mehr already hit two at the line to give the Cougars a 71-70 lead with 1:24 to go.
The Cougars led by as much as 15 in the first half, but after a surge by the Knights, had to score five straight late in the period to take a double-digit lead into the break.
In the second, as Martin Luther came all the way back to erase the Cougars' lead, the Knights took control of the game at the 6:49 mark on a three-pointer from the corner from Hannah Hackbarth. Coming down the floor Amanda Burk found Hackbarth wide open outside the arc and for the first time since the game's first minutes, the Knights were ahead.
The Cougars began to storm back, starting with the huge three from way behind the arc by Kendra Wycoff to pull the Cougars within two at 67-65 with 4:31 left play. After a stop on the other end and a huge rebound from Kelsey Erickson, the Cougars hit the fast break where Erickson hit Wycoff again for the lay-in and tying score at 3:54.
It looked then as if the Cougars had regained control, especially when after a timeout, Emily Mehr hit the go-ahead jumper to give the Cougars back the lead. Undaunted though, the Knights responded, setting up the final minutes.
Hackbarth finished with a game-high 23, while teammate Michael scored just four, going only 2-of-5 in the game.
Four Cougars scored in double figures, led by 20 from Emily Mehr. Jenni Noordmans scored 15, with Alyssa Silva and Abby Fragodt each adding 10.
Kelsey Erickson had 10 boards, matching Fragodt as the only players with 19 boards over a two-game stretch this season.
The Cougars now sit in second in the league standings, looking up at the Knights in sole possession of first. They'll get a rematch in New Ulm in just two weeks (Feb. 3), but first they take a break from UMAC play with a non-conference tilt at Trinity Bible on Tuesday (Jan. 24). Then next weekend they are on the road to close out the first trip through the league slate, taking on Northland and St. Scholastica on Jan. 27 and 28, respectively