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Cougar women come back to win two more

The University of Minnesota, Morris women extended their winning streak to 11 on the season with a pair of home victories in Upper Midwest Athletic Conference action.

The Cougars also stretched their UMAC winning streak to 23 straight.

With the season down to its final two weeks, the Cougars must now take to the road to close out their chase for a conference title. Up first is this weekend's trip to the Twin Cities and a Feb. 11 date with Crown. Their first chance to clinch the 2011 UMAC Championship would be a Feb. 12 match-up with Northwestern.

UM-Morris 77

Martin Luther 70

Despite trailing 13-2 early, and never leading in the first half, the Cougars came back to score a 77-70 win over visiting Martin Luther Friday, Feb. 4.

Behind 46 combined points from Steph Roggenbuck and Emily Mehr, the Cougars overcame a start that included missed opportunities on both ends of the floor. Roggenbuck was the catalyst in the first half, while Mehr carried the load in the second.

Roggenbuck scored 16 before heading into the locker room, on her way to her second double-double of the season with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Mehr scored 14 of her 22 total points in the second half, while adding seven boards of her own.

Martin Luther scored the game's first eight points, and held UMM to just two until Kelsey Erickson scored her only three points of the game at the 14:22 mark to make it 13-5.

The Cougars had six missed shots before the Erickson three, but got the spark they needed as it went down. From there they battled back to tie it at 17 apiece, which included 14 straight from the Cougars, a run that was capped by back-to-back baskets from Roggenbuck.

The Knights built their lead back up to seven at 32-25, but the Cougars closed on an 8-2 run to trail just one heading into the break, capped by a Brandi Cresap jumper at the buzzer.

Cresap finished with eight points, there assists, a block, and for the seventh time in the last eight games finished without a turnover.

Mehr quickly made her presence known in the second, scoring the half's first six points to put the Cougars up five at 39-34 at the 18:11 mark.

The two teams traded baskets - and the lead - for the next five minutes until Diane Blommel's three at the 13:05 mark gave the Cougars a 49-47 lead they would not relinquish. Three times the Knights would get back within two, but each time the Cougars answered to go back up by two possessions.

The Cougars stretched their lead to eight three times in the second half, the last time when Mehr nailed a lay up with just 3:27 remaining. After the Knights cut the lead to four, she came back with two free throws to give the Cougars back a six-point lead at 70-64 with 2:17 to go.

Mehr finished 8-of-11 from the line, including the game's final two points on two more from the stripe with just a second left.

UM-Morris 67

Bethany Lutheran 59

The Cougars were led by their seniors Saturday, Feb. 5, as the quartet paced their squad to a 67-59 win over Bethany Lutheran on Jim Gremmels Court.

Roggenbuck put up 19 points to lead all players - but her fellow seniors were equally responsible for the Cougars' latest comeback win.

Tara Thielke nailed a three for the Cougars' first points of the game, and finished with nine. Blommel hit a pair of free throws to halt a Viking rally, while also pulling down three boards and adding a steal. Cresap had yet another game without a turnover, handling the ball for 28 minutes.

For the second straight night the Cougars put themselves in a hole early, letting the Vikings out to an early 11-3 lead less than three minutes into the game. They still held the lead at the 9:14 mark when a back-to-back baskets gave the Vikings a 20-13 advantage.

After the two teams traded missed shots, Alyssa Silva provided the spark that the Cougars needed. At the 8:15 mark she nailed a three that brought UMM within four at 20-16, which also was the first of 10 straight points that gave the Cougars a 23-20 lead with 5:45 left to play.

The run was just the beginning of a 21-8 streak that the Cougars used to take a 34-28 lead into the locker rooms. The final 14 of that came from Roggenbuck, as she overcame an 0-for-4 start to finish with 15 in the half.

The Cougars opened the second half with eight straight points and never looked back.