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Cougar men drop three straight games

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The University of Minnesota, Morris men's basketball team fell to 2-4 on the season, dropping three straight games.

Jamestown 74

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UM-Morris 51

The Cougars were matched up with a hot shooting Jamestown team Tuesday, Nov. 23, falling 74-51.

A 38 percent shooting half for UMM was made worse by a 53 percent clip from Jamestown, as the visiting Jimmies ran out to a 34-25 halftime lead. The Cougars were able to step up their game in the second to finish at nearly 40 percent for the game, but unfortunately, so did the Jimmies who ended at 53 percent from the floor.

By the 9:56 mark of the first half, the Jimmies were up 14 at 24-10, sustaining that lead until the 4:31 mark when they led 33-19. From there though the Cougars went on a short 6-1 run to get under 10, and trail by just nine heading into the locker room.

The run was capped by a lay-in in the last minute from Derek Schmidt, who would finish with eight. Schmidt also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds, to finish just shy of a double-double. The nine boards mark a season-high for the sophomore, bettering his eight mark from the season opener.

Jamestown scored first in the second half to go back up by 11, and never let the Cougars closer than seven for the rest of the game.

A back-and-forth style of play developed until the second-half clock ticked past the 11-minute mark, with the Cougars continually closing within eight and the Jimmies answering to go back up 10.  From the 18:25 mark to the 10:51 mark, UMM got the score within eight six times, but every time Jamestown answered with a basket to push the lead back up.

A lay-in by Brendon Foss at 10:51 was the last for the Cougars until Zach Meyer hit his own lay-up at 7:02. Meyer went on to finish with a team high 12 points on a 5-of-7 night from the field.

As the Cougars struggled getting baskets, the Jimmies opened up a 22-6 run over a 7:19 stretch late in the half to put the game away. Included in run, however, was a nearly three-minute stretch where the Cougars held the Jimmies off the board, but were unable to capitalize on their defensive efforts as both teams went scoreless.

Meyer was the Cougars' only player in double figures, marking the first time this season they have been unable to reach two players with over 10 points. Leading scorer Steve Birman was an obvious target of the Jamestown attack, and was held to a season-low three points, all coming at the free-throw line.

The Cougars committed 23 turnovers in the game, which came back to play a major factor as the Jimmies turned them into 22 points. Jamestown turned it over 15 times, but minimized the damage as UMM got just four points off turnovers.

Mayville 88

UM-Morris 82

In an evenly matched game, Cougars dropped an 88-82 overtime decision on the road to Mayville State, Tuesday, Nov. 30.

The host Comets caught fire in the extra session, scoring 20 points as they hit 8-of-10 field goals - including a perfect 2-of-2 from behind the arc - as well as connecting on each of their free throws to put the game away.

The Cougars also had their best shooting mark of the night in the overtime session, hitting at a 63 percent clip, but it wasn't enough to keep up with the hot-shooting Comets. After a 34 percent performance from the floor in the first half, the Cougars came back in the second half to make 61 percent of their shots and end regulation with the score tied.

After trailing by two, 32-30 at the break, the Cougars outscored the Comets 38-36 in the second half to head into overtime all knotted up at 68-68.

UMM dropped their third straight after opening the season with back-to-back victories. Mayville State, meanwhile, snapped their own three-game losing streak with the overtime win.

Once again, the Cougars were led by Birman, who rang in a team high 25 points. Birman topped the 20-point mark for the third time in the season's first five games, while playing the entire 45 minutes.

Birman did his damage as the Cougars mounted their comeback, scoring 21 of his points in the second half and overtime.

The Comets were led by James Wiley who went 11-of-17, on his way to a game-high 27 points, while also pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds.

Zach Meyer led the Cougars on the boards, grabbing eight. The Cougars held a slight edge over the Comets in the category, pulling down 35 to MSU's 34.

North Central 74

UM-Morris 71

The Cougars could not hold off a persistent North Central team Thursday, dropping a 74-70 decision, despite holding a late lead.

A Birman fade-away with just two minutes left in the game, gave the Cougars their final lead at 68-67 lead, also capping a nearly five-minute run that brought the Cougars back from seven down with 6:31 to go. The play was made possible on the previous trip down the floor, when Meyer laid in two of his 18 points to bring the Cougars within one.

A major factor all night long, Meyer had his best game of the season, finishing with his second career double-double after 18 points and a career high-tying 10 rebounds.

After taking the lead, however, the Cougars were unable to put the game away as turnovers, fouls, and missed shots plagued UMM the rest of the way.

The Rams took the lead back with 1:10 to go, and then nailed 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to seal up the win.

North Central got their first win of the season and moved to 1-5, while the Cougars dropped their fourth straight to sit at 2-4. The Rams also avenged their season opening 94-80 loss to the Cougars.

A poor shooting first half by the Cougars was magnified by a quality first half by the Rams, and at the break the Cougars found themselves down 10 at 41-31.

The hosts led by as much as seven early in the half, but a 15-4 run by the Rams over the last 5:54 of the first, made for the 10-point margin heading into the locker rooms. 

Coming out of the break, the Cougars quickly went to work on the Ram lead. They scored the first six points of the half, before eventually working the score back to tied at the 14:45 mark. A four-point play by Birman at the 16:00 mark brought the Cougars within three, and two trips down the floor later a Meyer lay-in had it all knotted up at 42-42.

North Central answered by building their lead back up to seven, forcing the Cougars to come back again.

The score was tied 11 total times, with 10 different lead changes. The game tipped back and forth all the way and the Cougars had a chance at the end, despite their 38 percent shooting mark from the floor. When UMM beat the Rams in the opener they shot better than 55 percent, one of their best tallies of the season. 

The Cougars must now go back on the road as they look to break out of their current losing skid, and they will have to do so against one of the teams that contributed to it. On Dec. 7, UMM will travel to Jamestown for a 7:30 p.m. tip.

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