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Cougar men open season with OT loss

On opening night for the University of Minnesota, Morris men's basketball team Monday, missed free throws late and a couple lost opportunities led to an 80-74 overtime loss to Concordia-Moorhead.

The Cougars had three players reach double digits in the scoring column. Senior Eric Dalbey led the way with 21 points. Phil Allen and Kendall Proell chipped in with 18 and 13, respectively.

Concordia's rebounding created second-chance points as they beat the Cougars on the boards 38-24.

The Cougars' perimeter defense kept the Cobbers' guards in check throughout much of the game.

For the first 10 minutes of the game, the Cougars and Cobbers were evenly matched as the Cougar guards pressured the Cobbers around the arc, preventing them from getting any open jump shots. Inside, however, the Cobbers' post players kept the game close by making several tough shots in the paint.

Trailing 31-20 with three minutes left in the first half, the Cobbers made a late 10-0 run to close the gap to one point by halftime.

In the second half, Dalbey showed a hot hand, picking up most of his points in the second period. However, the Cougars' defensive intensity lagged, and the Cobbers hung close. Again, rebounding and giving Concordia second-chance points hurt the Cougars throughout the second half.

The Cobbers had a size advantage over the Cougars which manifested itself in UMM fouls in the second half. The Cobbers reached the bonus early and free throws enabled them to stay close to the Cougars.

The Cougars had chances to put the game away late in the fourth quarter. With 36 seconds remaining in regulation, junior Dan Fragodt missed a key free throw that would have given the Cougars a four-point cushion and put the game out of reach.

After a timeout, the Cobbers patiently moved the ball around and eventually buried a three with time running out. A heave by Proell at the buzzer missed.

In overtime, the Cougars began with a small lineup and the Cobbers were able to capitalize as their big men continued to dominate the boards and score inside points. They pulled away late in the period for an 80-74 win.

Despite the loss, the Cougars showed some positive accomplishments. Dalbey and Allen's return to the lineup paid great dividends immediately. They both appeared to have regained their all-UMAC form from two seasons ago. UMM also showed great depth as a team with many players coming off the bench for solid minutes.

The Cougar men will head out on the road for their first game away from the PE Center on Thursday when they take on the Mayville State Comets in Mayville, N.D., at 7 p.m.