The University of Minnesota, Morris men's basketball team split a pair of conference games over the weekend, defeating Northland College and falling to St. Scholastica.
The loss was UMM's first in Upper Midwest Athletic Conference play. They drop to 3-1 for a three-way tie for first place in the UMAC.
The Cougars resume play Thursday against Presentation College in Aberdeen, S.D.
Northland College 60
The Cougars resumed conference play Friday night in Ashland, Wisc. where they had a 2-0 UMAC record going into their match-up against Northland.
The Cougar men held off a physical Lumberjack squad for a 67-60 win, in a game that saw 42 personal fouls and 54 free throws.
The Cougars relied on balanced productivity for the win, getting double digit points from four players: Eric Dalbey, Derek Schmidt, Phil Allen, and Zach Meyer. Meyer also had a game-high 10 rebounds for a double-double evening.
In the first half, the Lumberjacks stayed close with physical defense against the Cougars, forcing them into turnovers.
UMM led 33-30 at halftime.
In the second half, the Cougars steadily increased their lead, at one point going up by 10. Northland was its own worst enemy, especially from the free-throw line, where they made just four of 16 in the second half.
The Cougars struggled from the free-throw line as well, hitting just 17-29 for the game. They atoned for the misses on the glass, pulling down 42 rebounds compared to Northland's 29.
First-year post Derek Schmidt said the rebounding advantage was due to the little guys.
"Our guards crash well and pull guys off me [and others] so we can grab rebounds."
Coach Paul Grove was pleased with the overall effort.
"Northland tries to slow you down with physical play and we coped with that well."
St. Scholastica 63
On Saturday, the Cougars traveled to Duluth where St. Scholastica pulled away late for a 63-56 win.
Despite a rebounding advantage of 15 and making 17 of 19 free throws, UMM was ultimately saddled by poor shooting. They made just 30 percent from the floor and only three of 15 attempts from beyond the three-point arc.
The Cougars cruised to an 11-2 lead within the first four minutes on buckets from Allen, Schmidt and a three-pointer from Kendall Proell. But the Saints scrambled to make up ground and narrowed that early lead to one by the 15-minute mark.
The Cougars then built a five-point margin on two Schmidt free throws and a layup from Meyer. Once again, Scholastica came back and evened the game at 15 where the two teams exchanged the lead until late in the first half when the Saints ran off four straight free throws and a three-point shot to give them a 32-25 halftime margin.
While the Cougars held a 23-13 rebounding margin in the first period, 13 turnovers (compared to the Saints' three) kept them from building and maintaining a lead.
UMM roared into the second half, quickly erasing the halftime deficit as Allen scored six of the Cougars' first 10 points, giving them a 35-34 lead.
Scholastica retook the lead 39-35 and maintained this advantage over the next three minutes, while increasing it to eight at the 7:45 mark.
The Cougars tried whittling away at the Saints' advantage, but they parried every UMM charge down the stretch.
First-year Cougar Ryan Denny hit two free throws to make it a 60-54 game with two minute remaining, but the Cougars could not score on subsequent possessions
A series of missed threes down the stretch sealed the Cougars' fate.
Allen led UMM with 15 points on 6-11 shooting. Proell added 12 points to go with four assists. Schmidt pulled down a game-high eight rebounds.