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Cougar women split pair of games

The University of Minnesota, Morris women's basketball team lost to Valley City State on the road, but defeated Mayville State at home.

Valley City 71

UM-Morris 63

A strong first half by host Valley City State and a late run in the second were too much for the Cougars to overcome on Dec. 7, as they fell 71-63 in non-conference action.

The Vikings shot better than 61 percent from the floor in the first half, missing just 10 total shots as they built up a 35-29 lead. The Cougars shot just 41 percent in the first half, but rebounded with a 46-percent clip in the second while also limiting VCSU to a 41-percent mark for the period.

Valley City State needed every bit of their first half success to maintain the lead, as the Cougars stayed close the entire way. Morris got within one late in the half, after a Kelsey Erickson jumper made the score 30-29 with just over a minute to go.

The Vikings answered with the final five points of the half, however, to take a six-point lead into the break.

In the second the Cougars drew within one again after a pair of Emily Mehr free throws made it 40-39 at the 16:21 mark, but a cold spell over the next five minutes put Morris in a 10-point hole as Valley City State capitalized on UMM errors to take a 49-39 lead midway through the half.

Mehr finished with 16 points, hitting double figures for the fourth time in the season's five games, and finished as one of two Cougars on top of the leader board as Jenni Noordmans led all players with 17.

The Cougars would not go away, though, and rattled off eight straight points over a two-minute span, capped by a three-point play from Emily Auch at the 5:26 mark to get back within two at 57-55.

Valley City State quickly answered to go back up four and kept the Cougars at bay as they finished off their eight-point win.

The loss is the third straight for the Cougars, and comes as they post their second best shooting night of the season with a .439 mark from the floor. Free throws and rebounds were their detriment however, as they went just .474 at the line and pulled down just 27 boards, each season lows.

UM-Morris 70

Mayville State 66

The Cougars turned back a late rally from visiting Mayville State to score a 70-66 win on Dec. 9 on Jim Gremmels Court.

Clinging to their lead late, the Cougars saw the Comets hit a big three to pull within one at 67-66 with just 32 seconds left. But after Mayville State was forced to foul, Kendra Wycoff drained both of her free throws to put the Cougars back up three in the final half-minute.

The Cougars then forced a turnover the next time down the floor, and after another Comet foul with just 11 seconds left Alyssa Silva hit the first of her two free throws to put the Cougars up four and seal the 70-66 win. Silva finished with nine points - including a 5-of-6 mark at the line - to overcome a slow start and finish among the scoring leaders.

The Cougars were led all night by freshman Allie Sannes who led all players with a career-high 15. Sannes did the bulk of her damage under the basket, consistently getting open behind the Comet defense. She was joined on the leaderboard by Abby Fragodt with 13 and Emily Mehr with 12.

The Mayville State trap that stifled the Cougars in their previous meeting this season struggled to get going, as the Cougars quickly opened up a 6-0 lead over the first two minutes. After the Comets put a run together to take a one point lead at 9-8, the Cougars rattled off eight straight points to go up 16-9 capped by a three-point play from freshman Emily Auch at the 12:08 mark.

Before the first half would end, the Cougars opened up a 12-point lead at 33-21 when Wycoff found Sannes alone under the basket with just over five minutes left. Morris would take a four-point lead into the break at 37-33.

The Cougars started the second half as hot as they were in the first, opening up their lead to its widest point at 51-38 with another score under the basket from Sannes at the 13:32 mark.

From there though, the Comets slowly began to chip away at the lead, finally erasing it when they tied the game at 54-all with less than seven minutes left. The Cougars held firm, and never trailed, quickly going on a 6-1 run to go back up five.

After Mayville State got within one again with just two minutes to go, Jenni Noordmans hit a huge three off a loose ball to give the Cougars back the momentum for the final stretch run.

The Cougars finished shooting 40 percent for the night, and pulled down 41 rebounds, their best since the season opener. They also tallied a season-high 19 assists, paced by a career high six from Kelsey Erickson.