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Cougars drop two in UMAC action

The University of Minnesota, Morris men's basketball team dropped a pair of road games to fall to 8-4 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.

Northwestern, meanwhile, clinched the 2010-11 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Championship with the win.

Morris remains in second place in the league standings, but falls into a tie with Bethany Lutheran as each sports an 8-4 league mark.

All is not lost, though, as Morris is still in control for a home playoff game when the UMAC Tournament opens on Feb. 23. Although they're tied for second with Bethany Lutheran, the Cougars own the tiebreaker with two wins over the Vikings this season. Therefore with two wins in the season's final weekend the Cougars can clinch the No. 2 seed in the tournament and return home for the first round of the playoffs.

This weekend's schedule features two teams that Morris beat just three weeks ago on Jim Gremmels  Court, St. Scholastica and Northland.

Crown 84

UM-Morris 72

The Cougars slipped up on the road Friday, Feb. 11, dropping an 84-72 decision to host Crown.

The loss was the Cougars' second in their last three road games.

After taking a 38-33 lead into halftime, Crown shot 46 percent (12-of-26) in the second half, compared to just 36 percent (14-of-39) for Morris, as the Storm outscored the Cougars 46-39 to seal the win.

The Storm shot nearly 40 percent (10-of-26) from long range on the night, led by Taylor Jones who went 5-of-8 from behind the arc on his way to a game high 21.

Tom Barrett led three Cougars in double figures with 14, and was joined by Kyle Bruns and Eric Dalbey who each finished with 11.

The Cougars dominated the boards, out-rebounding the Storm 45-35, with Morris pulling down 19 on the offensive end. That led to 14 second-chance points for the Cougars, but it was not enough to offset the 34 that Crown was able to seize off of 24 Morris turnovers.

The Storm also went 20-of-27 at the line, compared to a 14-of-22 mark for the Cougars.

Northwestern 78

UM-Morris 62

The Cougars ran into the only team that's been hotter than them in recent weeks, and host Northwestern stayed hot Saturday, Feb. 12, winning 78-62.

The Cougars trailed 47-25 at the break and could never get closer than 14 in the second half.

The Eagles controlled the game all night. They shot 53 percent (20-of-38) in the first half, including a 46 percent (5-of-11) mark from long range, before cooling off slightly to end the game at 50 percent (33-of-66) from the field. 

  Dalbey opened the game with a three, but the Eagles answered with seven straight, and by the 14:11 mark were up 10 at 17-7. Morris was able to get back within five, first on a Brendon Foss free throw at 11:27, and again when a Ben Hoidal jumper at 10:40 made it 19-14.

From there though, the Eagles went on a 24-4 run to take a 25-point lead after a Wade Chitwood three at the 3:03 mark.

Foss finished the game as the Cougars' leading scorer after a career-high 17. Derek Schmidt was the only other Cougar in double figures as he finished with 13, as well as 11 boards for his second double-double in three games.

The loss is the third in the Cougars' last four road games, after they closed the home schedule with seven straight wins.