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Cougar women nearly realize goal, set sites on next season's championship

The University of Minnesota, Morris women's basketball team nearly realized a goal of winning the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference championship, finishing the season in second place.

The Cougars finished 14-12 overall and were the No. 2 seed in the UMAC tournament, but lost the semi-final game to third-seeded Northwestern.

"Overall, I was very pleased with our season," said coach Tim Grove. "An 11-3 conference record is the best we've had here in a long time.

"The disappointing aspect is that we did not achieve our overall program goal of a conference championship," added Grove. "We put ourselves in great position with a 9-0 start, but didn't finish strong enough to earn the title.

"But with that said, I am still very proud of the product we put on the floor and the way our team played all season. We had different players step up and make plays for us the entire season. Our team play was definitely the key to our success.

"We are losing three very special players in Jamie Rainey, Coresa Leighty, and Tynell Kocer, who have all made their mark on our program."

Rainey finishes her career in second place on the Cougars' all-time assist list. She was named to the UMAC's All-Defensive Team this season.

"She has been the floor leader for the most successful four-year span in the last 25 years of Cougar basketball," said Grove. "She made numerous all-conference defensive teams, and was named honorable mention once.

"Leighty has been a great player for us over her career, too," said Grove. "She was a tough match-up for teams in our league and was a key part of our success."

Leighty finishes her career in 11th place on the all-time rebounding list. She led the Cougars with an average of 13.6 points per game. She was second in rebounding, averaging 5.8 per game. The forward also received Honorable Mention accolades from the UMAC this season.

"Tynell Kocer's senior season was cut 15 games short due to an injury. Even with that, she had climbed to 13th on the career scoring list with 1,084 points," said Grove. "She was a great player for us and was severely missed while she was out this season.

"All three were captains for us this year and have done a tremendous job raising the bar for Cougar basketball. They will be missed."

The Cougars have a lot to look forward to next season.

"We have some key players coming in to join our program, and our returning players are committed to working hard to challenge for a conference title once again."

Junior guard Nikki Washek and sophomore forward Stephanie Roggenbuck were named to the UMAC's All-Conference team. Washek averaged 12.7 points per game, while Roggenbuck averaged 13.2 points and a team-high 6.5 rebounds per game.