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Cougar men close regular season with win over Northland

Heading into the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) Tournament, the University of Minnesota, Morris men's basketball team can ride the momentum of back-to-back wins after closing the regular season with a 72-47 win over visiting Northland Saturday.

Morris led by 10 at the break, and then dominated the second half, holding Northland to just 18 in the period.

The Cougars held the LumberJacks to less than 10 field goals in each half, as well as an 0-for-6 mark from three point range in the second half.

"We shot the ball well last night which was nice, we've been struggling on the offensive end a little bit," head coach Paul Grove said. "And then today our defense was really really good so we're starting to put things together, guys are playing well. We've got some confidence and it's nice to go into the tournament like this, with confidence."

Backing up their defense, the Cougars got production throughout the line-up, led once again by Derek Schmidt with a season-high 20 points. He was the Cougars' only player to score in double figures, but four others finished with eight or nine points.

One of those was Kyle Bruns, who along with Schmidt and Zach Meyer paced the Cougars on senior night. The trio combined for 34 points - including a combined 10-of-11 at the free throw line - with 13 rebounds chipped in.

"They all played great," Grove said. "They've won some big games here, and this was a huge weekend, just to make sure we got into the tournament. It was nice to see those guys rise up and get the job done. We've been going inside all year because of those three guys and they've all come through."

The Cougars shot 48 percent (26-of-54) from the field, and had one of their best games of the season at the free-throw line with a 82 percent (14-of-17) mark.

After Northland took a brief lead at 25-24 with 7:35 left to play in the first, the Cougars closed the half on a 15-4 run to lead by double digits as they went into the locker rooms.

Then in the second it was all Cougars, opening up their lead to 20 for the first time at the 12:05 mark.

The win avenges an earlier loss to Northland, as the LumberJacks got the better of the Cougars on Jan. 27 in Ashland, Wis.