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Cougar women clinch first-round home game with win over Saints

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Behind yet another in a season of dominant performances from Emily Mehr, the University of Minnesota, Morris women's basketball team clinched a first-round home game in this week's Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Tournament with a 77-54 win over St. Scholastica Friday.

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After scoring 30 for the first career time last week, Mehr set another career high with 31, going 10-of-15 from the floor, including a 3-of-3 mark from behind the arc as well as an 8-of-8 performance at the line.

Backing her up on the leader board was Alyssa Silva with 14 and Kendra Wycoff with 10 as the Cougars topped the 70-mark for the 16th time on the season.

Morris wins for the seventh straight time, overcoming a slow start to open up their lead to as much as 12 in the first half. The teams traded baskets and the lead for the first 12 minutes of the half, before Mehr and Sylva combined for four straight free throws to put the Cougars up for good.

After taking the lead, the Cougars extended it with precise free throw-shooting, taking advantage of their 14 trips and turning it into 13 points as they built up their lead.

The Cougars went 25-of-28 at the line, and in addition to Mehr, Sylva was also a perfect 6-of-6. Three total players went to the line without a miss, while no player missed more than once.

After starting the second half up 10 at 40-30, the Cougars quickly stretched the lead to 20, getting there on eight straight points from Mehr, capped by back-to-back threes at 15:13 to go up 53-33. A possession later, two free throws from Sylva capped a Cougar run of 15 straight points and a 15-2 run to open the half.

They would lead by double digits the rest of the way, avenging their last loss which came on the road at the hands of St. Scholastica in overtime. The loss also snaps a three-game winning streak for the Saints.

The Cougars out-rebounded the Saints 39-33, led by 11 from Abby Fragodt.

Assured of a home playoff game when the UMAC Tournament opens, the Cougars also remained tied for first in the conference standings, with Martin Luther also winning.

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