For the second time in three nights, a Cougar basketball team left Mayville, N.D., with a comeback victory after trailing by double-digits.
Thursday night it was the University of Minnesota, Morris men, who overcame a 14-point deficit to force overtime and pull off the win in the extra session. The Cougars lost by the same twist of fate Monday to Concordia.
Sharp-shooting and better rebounding in the second half keyed the comeback and victory. The Cougars shot 54 percent for the game (compared to Mayville's 37 percent) and made six of 11 three-point tries.
UMM showed balanced scoring throughout. Senior Phil Allen and junior Eric Dalbey led the Cougars with 17 points apiece. First-year guard Derek Schmidt chipped in 12 and senior Kendall Proell added 11. First-year player Ryan Denny added 10 points, including the game-tying three-pointer at the end of regulation.
In the first half, the Cougars fell behind early, unable to defend against Mayville's athleticism in the paint.
"Sometimes we were in the right position to stop a drive," said head coach Paul Grove, "but they just rise above us and scored."
The Comets also scored a handful of points by grabbing offensive rebounds.
Midway through the first half, Grove pulled his team into a zone defense, forcing the Comets to shoot from outside, which they didn't do very well, going 10 for 34 on three-point shots.
"The zone slowed [Mayville] down for a while, but then they started hitting and we had to come out. That's okay because we're a man-to-man team," said Grove.
By halftime, the Cougars had cut the Comets' lead to 36-30.
In the second half, UMM focused on keeping Mayville away from the offensive glass, staying with deliberate offensive possessions and taking good shots. Grove said the latter made the difference in the game.
"Most of the night we were patient in our set offense. A couple times when we were down in the first half, we panicked and took bad shots to get those points back. But in the second half, almost every offensive possession was a good one. We were setting screens and getting good looks."
While the Cougars were outrebounded 41 to 35 in the game, it was the greater effort on the glass in the second half that slowed down Mayville's team speed. Schmidt, Dalbey, and forward Zach Meyer each had six rebounds apiece to lead UMM.
At the end of regulation, Grove put Denny in the game to "have an extra shooter on the floor." Point guard Proell tried to penetrate and dish. He found an open Denny who buried the three with seconds left.
In the overtime, the Cougars outscored Mayville 14-7 to secure the win.
The Cougars play on the road this weekend at Minnesota-Crookston and return for their next home game after the Thanksgiving break, when they host Mayville State.