The University of Minnesota, Morris women's basketball team used a stifling second half defense to propel them to a 79-68 win over Presentation in the conference opener Tuesday, Jan. 11.
Opening up the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) season on the friendly floor of Jim Gremmels Court, the Cougars held the Saints to just 20 percent shooting from the field in the second half. The Cougars allowed just six second-half field goals, while also limiting the Saints to a 19 percent mark from long range in the period.
UMM outscored Presentation 35-25 in the second half on their way to the win, after taking just a one-point lead into halftime.
The Cougars were led by the inside presence of Steph Roggenbuck and Emily Mehr who scored 20 and 19 points, respectively, while giving UMM a 28-12 advantage in points in the paint. The pair was also a major part of the Cougars' 61 percent (17-of-28) shooting mark in the first half, and 55 percent (30-of-55) tally for the game. Mehr finished 9-of-11 on the night, while Roggenbuck was not far behind at 7-of-12.
Tara Thielke - who was honored during the men's game for scoring her 1,000th collegiate point on Jan. 4 against Valley City State - also joined in the scoring leaders with 15.
The Cougars opened the game on a 12-4 run with Roggenbuck and Mehr combining to score all 12 points. It looked as if they would win going away when a Diane Blommel three-pointer put UMM up by 12 at 33-21 with eight minutes left in the half, but from there the Saints began to chip away.
Presentation held UMM to just two field goals over the final five minutes, and scored the final six points of the half to trail just one at the break.
Turning the momentum around, the Cougars opened the second half on a 10-0 run, forcing three turnovers and six missed shots by the Saints. Under the intense defensive pressure from UMM, Presentation would get only within eight in the second, and trailed by as much as 21 on two occasions, before ending with the 11-point margin.
The Saints were led by Nicky Rausch with a game-high 22 points, but the Cougars made her earn it, as she was just 8-of-26 from the field, and only 3-of-15 from three-point range.
For the Cougars, Roggenbuck was just two rebounds shy of her second double-double, grabbing a team-high eight. She also went a perfect 4-of-4 at the line, leading the Cougars to a 10-of-11 mark as a team.
Now 1-0 in league action, the Cougars have won 14 consecutive UMAC games, with their last loss coming in last season's opener. They will look to stay unbeaten this weekend when they host Northwestern and Crown.