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Cougar men lock up fourth seed with win over Saints

Using a fast start, the University of Minnesota, Morris men's basketball team never trailed in an 82-67 win over St. Scholastica in a key Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) game Friday on Jim Gremmels Court.

The win secured the Cougars of the fourth seed when the UMAC Tournament play begins on Wednesday. With Bethany Lutheran locking up the UMAC Championship last weekend, the Cougars know they will be heading to Mankato to face the Vikings in the first round, a team they have played close in each meeting this season, leading on the road up until the final minutes in their last match-up.

Morris jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first two minutes, and led 13-4 nearly four minutes in after a Kyle Bruns bucket before St. Scholastica put a run together to get within one.

The Saints went on a 12-4 run to get to 17-16 at the 8:15 mark, but as was the story of the game, the Cougars answered. The Cougars outscored the Saints 16-7 over the next seven minutes to go up 10 for the first time at 33-23 when Derek Schmidt hit a free throw to cap a three-point play with just a minute left to play.

The Saints would hit the final basket of the half to trail eight at 33-25 heading into the break.

Schmidt finished with 15 and was one of a season high five different players to score in double digits for the Cougars, led by Brendon Foss and Logan Orazem with 18 each. The 18 marked a career high for Orazem, while it was the fourth highest total for Foss this season.

Ben Hoidal with 11 and Zach Meyer with 10 each also hit double digits, with Meyer hitting a pair of big second-half threes to help the Cougars to a 13-point lead, at the same time halting a Saint run that had just brought the visitors within four.

Meyer and Foss combined for nine straight points, putting the Cougars up double digits, where they would stay for much of the remainder of the half.

After shooting almost 60 percent (13-of-22) from the field in the first half, the Cougars stayed hot, finishing the game at 57 percent (25-of-44) to post their second best performance of the season.