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Cougar women start conference schedule 2-0

The University of Minnesota, Morris women's basketball team started the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference schedule with two home victories. Wins over Bethany Lutheran College and Martin Luther College move the Cougars' to 5-1 overall.

The Cougars are back in action this Wednesday, playing host to Jamestown College at 5:30 p.m.

UM-Morris 76

Bethany Lutheran 65

Scrappy board work, clutch free-throw shooting, and a deep bench helped the Cougar women pull away for a 76-65 conference win over visiting Bethany Lutheran College at the P.E. Center Friday night.

Forward Emily Mehr led all scorers with 19 points, but 12 of those came from outside the 3-point arc. Junior post Steph Roggenbuck continued her steady play with her fourth double-digit night (14 points) of the season. Sophomore guard Jenni Noordmans added 12.

Late in the first half, two three-pointers from junior Diane Blommel and a string of eight straight free throws helped UMM gain a seven-point halftime lead.

Bethany Lutheran started the second half with renewed intensity and whittled the Cougar lead to just one within the first 2:30. From that point the Cougars fought and battled to keep a four-point lead.

"Tonight we did a great job on the boards. The rebounding was excellent," said head coach Tim Grove. "Defensively, we played well at times and really got stops when we needed them."

The Cougars outrebounded the Vikings, 40-32, but shot only 29 percent.

In the end, it was solid free-throw shooting that helped the Cougars seal the win. In the second half, they made 15-18 down the stretch and were 27-33 on the night (82 percent). Noordmans alone went 7-7, while Roggenbuck made eight of 10. The Vikings, meanwhile, converted just 21 of their 33 free throws.

UM-Morris 76

Martin Luther 63

Saturday afternoon, despite 26 points from Martin Luther guard Erica Babinec, the Cougars moved to 2-0 in UMAC play with a 76-63 win over the Knights.

The Cougars led 2-0 before tipoff when the Knights were assessed a technical foul for changing their starting lineup after having submitted one to the official scorer. Roggenbuck made both free throws, the first on her 7-7 night from the line.

From there, the Cougars bolted out to an 8-0 lead when Noordmans drained two threes back to back.

Slowly the Knights chipped away at the lead, cutting the margin to 11-8 within a couple of minutes.

Midway through the first half, Roggenbuck began to assert her presence inside with nine first-half points to give the Cougars a 26-20 lead.

Again the Knights battled back.

Off the bench, Blommel sparked a late run with a three pointer and two free throws, giving the Cougars a momentary nine-point lead before MLC scored a late bucket to make it a seven-point halftime deficit at 34-27.

UMM reached the bonus by the eight-minute mark and drained 10-14 from the charity stripe. The Cougars made 26 of 34 free throws for the game.

In the second half, the Cougars ran their lead to 15 points early, and from then the two teams traded surges--MLC cutting the lead to 7 or 8 and UMM running it back to double digits.

The Cougar posts--Roggenbuck, Kara Norris, Mehr and Joy Heysse--continued to win the battle in the paint, keeping pace with the taller Knights.

In a matter of two minutes, senior guard Nikki Washek, still on the mend from injury, put the game out of reach.

Roggenbuck led the Cougars with 15 points and four rebounds. Washek added 14 while Mehr and Noordmans chipped in 11 apiece. Guard Brandi Cresap led UMM with five assists. Norris' seven boards were the team high.