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Cougar women cap off perfect UMAC season

The University of Minnesota, Morris women have now won 14 straight, as well as 26 consecutive Upper Midwest Athletic Conference games, to finish the season with a perfect conference record.

The Cougars possess a 19-6 overall record to go with their 14-0 UMAC record. As the No. 1 seed, Morris will host No. 4 Martin Luther at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 23. No. 2 seed Northwestern will host No.3 Northland.

UM-Morris 76

St. Scholastica 72

After leading by nine at halftime and as much as 14 in the second half, the Cougars held off a St. Scholastica rally for their 76-72 win Friday, Feb. 18.

The Cougars were paced by four starters in double figures, while six players scored seven points or more.

The Saints were ultimately done in by a poor shooting first half, and 18 turnovers that led to 20 Cougar points. The loss dropped them out of the conference tournament.

The Cougars shot 50 percent (13-of-26) from the field in the second half, compared to 44 percent (15-of-34) for the surging Saints, but it was the Saints' 34 attempts to the Cougars 26 that allowed CSS to close the gap.

Emily Mehr, Steph Roggenbuck, and Tara Thielke all scored 14 points to lead the way, with Jenni Noordmans adding 13. Thelke and Roggenbuck had 11 and 10, respectively, to lead the charge in the first half, while Mehr and Noordmans carried the load in the second with 11 and nine, respectively.

After going up early, the Cougars found themselves down by as much as seven in the first, after a Saint basket made it 15-8 at the 12:14 mark. Morris answered with a 10-2 run and took a one-point lead after a fast break lay-up from Noordmans made it 18-17 with 9:24 left to play.

The lead changed hands on the next two possessions, but a Kelsey Erickson steal led to an Alyssa Silva basket at 8:23 to put the Cougars up 21-19, and they would not trail again.

Coming out of the break, a steal from Roggenbuck led to a Noordmans three that gave the Cougars a 41-29 lead just 25 seconds in. The Saints answered with an 11-2 run and trailed just two at 43-41 at the 13:11 mark, but the Cougars answered with five straight to go back up seven after a Mehr three made it 48-41 with 12:26 to play.

A lay-up from Mehr four minutes later stretched the lead to its widest of the game at 66-52.

Holding a seven-point lead as the clock went under the two-minute mark, the Cougars waited out some tense final moments for the win. A pair of missed free throws on one possession led to a turnover on the next, and with 35 seconds left the Saints had gotten within five at 74-69. 

However, Brandi Cresap nailed the clinching free throws the next time down the floor to put the Cougars back up seven at 76-69. The Saints hit a three in the last 10 seconds to bring the final score within four, but it was too little, too late.

UM-Morris 69

Northland 41

The Cougars put the cap on a perfect conference season Friday, Feb. 19, as a 69-41 win over host Northland polished off a conference championship season and a perfect 14-0 record in the UMAC.

Morris never trailed in the game and took a 21-point lead into halftime. In the second, they led by as much as 30 on two occasions before the final 28-point margin of victory. The Cougars shot 54 percent (28-of-52) from the floor, one of their best marks of the season.

The LumberJills struggled from the floor, making just 27 percent (12-of-44) of their attempts from the floor, and made just 12 field goals.

The Cougars led just two at the 15:25 mark at 9-7, but after eight straight points led 16-7 at the 11:21 mark. Then an 11-3 run extended the Cougars' lead to 17 with 5:33 to go. The first scoring spurt was capped by Alyssa Silva, with the second ended by Mehr.  Silva and Mehr each finished with 12 points, behind the game's scoring leader, Roggenbuck.

Roggenbuck finished with 17 points, including 10 in the second half. At one point in the second, she scored eight of 12 Cougar points as they were able to put it in cruise control for much of the final 20 minutes.

The senior ends the UMAC season averaging 18.6 points and 7.3 rebounds, and entering the weekend, was the only player in the league in the top-five of both categories.

Northland had just two players reach double figures, as Laura Fisher netted 16 and Ashley Runge logged 11. The .278 mark from the field allowed by the Cougars is the lowest for an opponent since Crown was held to a mere .231 back in the first week of league play.