The University of Minnesota, Morris men's basketball team started the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference schedule with two home victories. Wins over Bethany Lutheran College and Martin Luther College move the Cougars' to 3-3 overall.
The Cougars return to action Wednesday night when they continue their homestand against Jamestown College in a non-conference game at 7:30 p.m. at the PE Center.
Bethany Lutheran 56
On Friday night, the Cougars hosted the Bethany Lutheran Vikings for their conference home opener. The Cougars were looking to start anew in conference play after going 1-3 in non-conference games. The Vikings, meanwhile, were looking for their first win of the season after starting out 0-6.
In the first half, the Cougar offense of Derek Schmidt, Phil Allen, and Zach Meyer were able to showcase their passing ability by kicking the ball out to the open guards on the perimeter.
Early on the Cougars struggled on the defensive boards, allowing Bethany to score several second-chance points in the first 10 minutes. But from midway point on, the Cougars kept the Vikings off the boards.
Closing out the first half, on the defensive end, the Cougars applied good pressure and shut down the Vikings' passing and driving lanes. On offense, UMM played patient basketball as they waited for the open man to appear.
The Cougars went into the locker room at halftime with a 43-36 lead.
Schmidt led the Cougar charge in the first half with 10 points and seven rebounds. Meyer had eight points off the bench and finished with a game-high 16.
To start the second half, the Cougars made an 8-3 run to push their lead to 12.
Later in the half, three Allen lay-ups and a Dalbey three-pointer extended the Cougar lead to 22 and put the game out of reach.
The Cougars had four players in double-digit scoring and held a 42-27 rebounding advantage.
After the game, Grove was happy with his team's energy on the offensive boards, as well as the number of fast-break points scored.
"Those are the two things we've been working on, preaching about getting, and tonight they showed up," Grove said.
Martin Luther 90
On Saturday evening, the Cougars were looking for revenge against the Knights, who took both games from them last season on their way to being co-regular season UMAC champions. The Knights came into the game 1-3 coming off a conference loss to Presentation the night before.
In the first half, the Cougars got some help from their leading scorer Eric Dalbey as he scored nine points in his first four minutes and forty seconds of work to help the Cougars gain an early 16-9 lead.
After the Cougars' hot start, the Knights applied full court pressure on the Cougar's guards leading to a few turnovers and a nine-point Knight run.
The Cougars were able to maintain a lead throughout the whole second part of the half.
With the clock winding down in the first half, a tipped pass left the ball in Dalbey's hands. With little time left and no options, Dalbey hit a three pointer well beyond the line to give the Cougars a 52-43 lead going into the locker room.
The Cougars were led in scoring by Dalbey with 22 points. Allen and Meyer also chipped in eight apiece.
Coming out of the locker room, both teams played with added intensity.
The Cougars to possessed a 20-point lead with 6:21 remaining on the game clock and fought off a late push by the Knights to win 104-90.
The Cougars had seven players reach double digits in points on the night. Dalbey scored a game-high 27 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Meyer chipped in 18 points off the bench for the Cougars and Kendall Proell had his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 assists.
As a team, the Cougars shot a season-high 56.5 percent from the field.