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Cougar men hold off Presentation comeback

MORRIS - After seeing a second-half lead slip away, the University of Minnesota, Morris men's basketball team put the breaks on a potential Presentation comeback and pulled away late for an 81-71 win on Jim Gremmels Court Tuesday, Jan. 31.

The Cougars were able to turn the tables on the Saints from their first meeting of the season, as it was Presentation who held on late for a win, holding off a late Morris rally to escape with a win in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) opener.

The Cougars led by as much as 11 in the second half, but the Saints went on a 14-3 run to tie the game at 56-56 with 8:12 left to play.

After seeing the score fall back to even, the Cougars clamped down and were able to maintain at least a slim lead, never trailing over the next five minutes. Then with 3:34 left, Derek Schmidt hit his final two free throws to give the Cougars a five-point cushion, and on the next possession Ben Hoidal started a 9-0 Cougar run to put the game away.

In the second half, Morris shot nearly 60 percent (14-of-24) from the field, led by 10 points in the half from Schmidt who finished with a season-high 18, hitting the mark for the fourth time. The Cougars' leading scorer, Schmidt went a pedestrian 2-of-3 from the floor in the second half, but made his mark with a 6-of-7 half at the free-throw line.

As a team, the Cougars had easily their best night from the charity stripe, finishing with an 86 percent (25-of-29) tally, which included a 10-of-11 count in the first half.

Led by 11 first-half points from Hoidal, the Cougars were able to take a 37-30 lead into the halftime locker room. He went on to finish with a career-high 17, including a 4-of-5 night at the line. Logan Orazem finished a perfect 6-of-6 at the free-throw line, on his way to 10 points, while adding five rebounds, a team-high five assists, one block and one steal