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Cougar men win 6th straight

The University of Minnesota, Morris men's basketball team defeated Martin Luther and Bethany Lutheran at home, extending a winning streak to six.

With these latest two victories, the Cougars improve to 11-9 overall and 7-2 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.

The Cougars hit the road for the season's final four games.

Next weekend they will travel to the Twin Cities for a pair of games, including a Feb. 12 match-up with league leader Northwestern. Just a game ahead of the Cougars in the league standings, the 9-1 Eagles' only loss came at the hands of the Cougars earlier this season.

But first, Morris must take on Crown in St. Bonifacious on Feb. 11.

UM-Morris 79

Martin Luther 72

Derek Schmidt led the Cougars to a 79-72 comeback win over Martin Luther Friday, Feb. 4 on Jim Gremmels Court.

Schmidt finished 8-of-8 from the floor and 7-of-7 from the line while grabbing 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season.  He was joined on the leader board by Tom Barrett who added 14, while going an equally perfect 6-of-6 at the line.

The Cougars overcame a four-point halftime deficit, trailed by as much as 10 in the second half, and didn't take the lead for good until there was less than a minute and a half left when Schmidt broke a 71-all tie with his jumper in the lane.

Six UMM free throws closed the game, as the Cougars finished 25-of-31 from the line on their way to their fifth straight win.

Martin Luther shot 50 percent (14-of-28) from the floor in the first half, which included a blazing 64 percent (7-of-11) from long range as they controlled the tempo for much of the first 20 minutes.

After Schmidt scored the game's first six points, the Knights responded with a 14-4 run to take anfour-point lead at 14-10 at the 15:21 mark.

Coming out of the break the Cougars closed to within two after an Eric Dalbey lay-up at the 16:40 mark, but then found themselves looking up at a 10-point deficit when the Knights made it 54-44 at the 13:10 mark.

A Barrett lay-up on the next possession started a maroon and gold surge that ended with a Kyle Bruns lay-in at 9:09 that gave the Cougars a three-point lead at 59-56. Just one possession earlier Steve Birman gave the Cougars their first lead of the half, which was two of just eight points for Morris' leading scorer.

The Cougars showed their depth, as Birman and Dalbey - their two scoring leaders - were held to a combined 12 points.

Barrett put the Cougars up four at the 7:54 mark, but an 8-0 run from the Knights put them quickly back up four at the 6:11 mark. Two Schmidt free throws at 5:02 brought the score back to even at 67-67, before he gave the Cougars the lead for good with his acrobatic score at 1:23.

UM-Morris 78

Bethany Lutheran 59

The Cougars played their most complete game of the season Saturday, Feb. 5, cruising to a 78-59 win over visiting Bethany Lutheran.

In their final game on Jim Gremmels Court, the Cougars' two seniors led way, as Dalbey scored a team-high 17 points, and Daniel Fragodt pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.

Back-to-back fast break lay-ups to close out the first half started a momentum swing that the Cougars carried into the second half. Coming out of the break with a 47-33 lead, the Morris offense continued to cruise, and they never looked back.

They went up 20 at the 11:39 mark, and never led by less than 12 in the half. A nice assist from Fragodt to Zach Meyer under the basket gave the Cougars a 73-51 lead at the 5:13 mark, giving the Cougars their biggest lead of the game.

Assists were plentiful, as the Cougars finished with 21, just the third time this season they've topped the 20-mark. Ten different players had a helper, with nine charting more than one.

Barrett finished with three, but none more impressive than his dish to Brendon Foss in the paint, while Barrett was flying through defenders in the lane. The bucket gave the Cougars a 20-point advantage for the third time at 69-49 with 6:12 left to play. Barrett also added 11 points.

With his own flair for the spectacular, Foss had a huge first half swat that stopped a Viking threat and preserved a five-point Cougar lead.

In the first Cougars were paced by Dalbey, who scored all 17 of his points in the period. Plagued by slow starts in recent weeks, the Cougars got out in front early, leading 28-18 at the 9:16 mark on a Barrett three-pointer.

They would also go up by 13 late in the first half, taking a 38-25 lead with 3:57 to go when Dalbey made the last of his four first-half threes. The Vikings cut the lead to eight, but the Cougars countered with an 8-0 run to close the half, capped by those two fast-break steal-and-scores in the final 30 seconds to take a 14-point lead into the break.