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Cougar women moving closer to post-season tourney

The University of Minnesota, Morris women's basketball team improved its conference record with a 58-44 victory over Presentation College Thursday at the P.E. Center.

The Cougars stand at 7-1 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference and are nearly assured a spot in the post-season tournament.

The Saints drop to 3-5 but are still in the hunt for the UMAC tournament.

Out of the gate, the UMM post players exploded for points. Within the first seven minutes the Cougars had built a 15-2 lead, all baskets scored by junior Steph Roggenbuck and first-year player Emily Mehr, as they dominated inside, grabbing a combined eight first-half rebounds as well.

Eventually the shots started to fall for the Saints and they increased their effort on the boards. Both defenses clamped down on the half court sets and open shots were suddenly harder to find.

The Saints eventually closed the margin to single-digits before the end of the half, 30-22.

Statistically the Cougars outrebounded Presentation 20-16 in the first half, while shooting 38 percent compared to their 29 percent. UMM committed only six first-half turnovers.

In the second half, Alaina Benson, a former Cougar standout who is now walking the sidelines as the head coach for Presentation College, rallied her team to close the gap to three at the 10-minute mark. Big three pointers two minutes apart from Kelsey Erickson and Tara Thielke deflated the Presentation charge.

During a timeout with 3:20 remaining, and his team up 54-44, head coach Tim Grove told his team how to win.

"We'll win this game on the defensive end. We shouldn't have to score another basket to win this game. Get it done!"

The Cougars kept the Saints scoreless for the rest of the game to close out a 58-44 win.

Mehr and Roggenbuck had game highs with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Tara Thielke and Roggenbuck had six rebounds apiece.

Meanwhile, on the defensive end, the Cougars held Presentation to a 29 percent shooting night, and forced them into 17 turnovers.

Grove used 10 players, each of whom played 14 minutes or more.

There were only 11 free throw attempts in the game and neither team reached the bonus in either half.