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Cougar women tie for first in UMAC

Two weekend wins put the University of Minnesota, Morris in a first-place tie in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference women's basketball standings.

The Cougars came into the weekend already having locked up a spot in the UMAC post-season.

The wins moved the Cougars' record to 9-1 in the UMAC and 14-6 overall. They are tied with Northland for first place. The remaining four regular season games will determine who wins home-court advantage for the post-season tournament.

UM-Morris 58

St. Scholastica 51

Led by Steph Roggenbuck and Emily Mehr, the Cougars downed St. Scholastica 58-51 at the P.E. Center Friday night.

Slow starts have plagued the Cougars this season, but UMM stormed out to a 16-2 lead by the 12:50 mark behind 14 points from posts Roggenbuck and Mehr.

Scholastica had trouble creating points on offense due to 13 first-half turnovers and 17 percent shooting in the first half, due in large part to UMM's defensive ball pressure. Guard Nikki Washek and Mehr had two steals each in the first half.

A three-pointer from Brandi Cresap at the buzzer gave the Cougars a 27-10 halftime lead.

Roggenbuck and Mehr led first half scoring with eight points apiece. Forward Kara Norris added five off the bench, along with three rebounds.

The Cougars pushed their lead to 23 in the second half. With solid defense and points inside, the Cougars led 39-20 at the midway mark.

The Saints reduced the UMM lead to 41-27.

Head coach Tim Grove called a timeout and chided his players about losing energy on the floor.

Out of the timeout, the Cougars were back up by 16 at 45-29, before back-to-back scores the Saints cut the Cougar lead to 10 with 3:45 remaining.

The Cougars began scrambling for points and went inside to Roggenbuck and Mehr again who drew fouls and trips to the free throw line where they kept the Saints at bay until some late baskets narrowed the final margin.

Roggenbuck and Mehr led all scorers with 18 and 15 points, respectively. They also grabbed a combined seven rebounds, and Roggenbuck was credited with four assists.

Turnovers were CSS's undoing. They committed 28 for the game.

UMM had an uncharacteristic night from the line, converting only 18-26 (70 percent), below their season average of 76 percent.

UM-Morris 57

Northland College 53

With Saturday's 57-53 win over Northland College, the Cougar women claimed a first-place tie with the Lumberjills in the UMAC.

The Lumberjills were playing without their star guard, Lindsay Hamm, 2009's UMAC player of the year, who injured her ankle last week. Despite her absence, Northland scrapped for the entire game and pushed the Cougars to the final minutes.

Once again, the inside tandem of Roggenbuck and Mehr set the tone early for the Cougars, accounting for 15 of UMM's 24 first-half points.

In the second half, Mehr continued to rack up points in the paint as UMM maintained a five-point lead late into the game.

Then with 7:15 remaining and trailing 44-39, the Lumberjills made a 7-0 run and led 50-47 when they called timeout with 1:36 to go.

Coming out of the timeout, the Cougars had possession. They worked the ball inside to Roggenbuck who found herself double-teamed. She kicked the ball into the corner where an open Brandi Cresap nailed a three to tie the game.

The Lumberjills turned the ball over on their next possession on a steal by Mehr. Guard Diane Blommel rebounded her own missed shot and kicked the ball out top to Nikki Washek who made a three pointer to give Morris a 53-50 advantage and 42 seconds remaining.

The Lumberjills failed to scored on their next possession and were forced to foul. Free throws preserved the margin until time ran out.

Mehr led all scorers with 22 points to go with eight rebounds. Roggenbuck had a 13 points and nine rebounds

As a team, the Cougars had 16 turnovers to Northland's 13, but made up for that difference by recording five blocks on the day.