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Cougar men split pair of UMAC games

The University of Minnesota, Morris men’s basketball team split a pair of Upper Midwest Athletic Conference games over the weekend. The Cougars are now 7-10 overall and 3-4 in the conference.

UM-Morris 92, Martin Luther 52

The Cougars got 20 points from both R.J. Dean and Steve Birman as they cruised to a 92-52 win over Martin Luther Friday.

As a team the Cougars shot 40.7 percent from the three-point line. The defense held MLC to just 18.5 percent on threes, as they were just 5-of-27 from behind the arc.  

Dean and Birman both went 8-for-14 from the field. Brendon Foss added 14 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes.

Morris outscored the Knights 45-22 in the paint, 26-11 in points off turnovers, 22-8 in second-chance points, and 26-11 in bench scoring.

The game was close in the first half but UMM outscored Martin Luther 54-20 in the second half.  

The second half spurt was spurred by hot shooting as the Cougars were 21-of-34 from the field and 8-of-15 from three-point land. On the flip side, the Knights were just 9-of-38 from the field and 1-of-17 from behind the arc in the second half.  

Martin Luther jumped out to a 10-4 lead early, but the Cougars responded to cut the lead to 12-10 with just over 14 minutes left in the first half.

The Knights kept the lead until Foss hit a layup to put UMM up 22-21 with under six minutes left in the half.

Tied at 27 with 4:22 left in the half the Cougars went on an 11-5 run to end the half and take a 38-32 lead.

Evan Reller had two of his four points immediately out of the break to give Morris an eight-point lead.

The Knights cut the lead to five twice in the opening three minutes of the half, however Morris responded with a 21-5 run to take a 63-42 lead with 10:43 left.

UMM never looked back and led by as much as 42 as they coasted to the 40-point win.

Bethany Lutheran 72, UM-Morris 64

The Cougars were outscored 32-16 in the paint on Saturday as they fell 72-64 to Bethany Lutheran.

Four Cougars scored in double figures, led by  Foss who had 13 points and eight rebounds.

After a slow start both teams combined for 87 second-half points on over 50-percent shooting.

The Cougars fell behind early as the Vikings jumped out a 9-1 lead. Morris tried to fight back throughout the next 10 minutes, yet it was not until the 7:45 mark when  Birman hit a jumper cutting the lead to just one.

It would be as close the Cougars would get as the Vikings extended their lead to seven just before the end of the half, taking the 28-21 lead into the locker room.  

Out of the break Bethany Lutheran went on a 9-2 run to take a 37-23 lead with 17:25 left.

The Cougars put together a methodical run closing the game to just four with 11:48 left. Foss had five points during the run and Logan Orazem and Reller each had four.

Morris could not overcome the Vikings as they pulled away once again. 

Dean hit a pair of free throws with 2:14 left to again pull the Cougars within four, but it was not enough as the Cougars would go just 2-of-7 in the final two minutes.

Dean finished with 12 points, and Reller and Tyler Pendleton each had 11 points. Reller also had eight rebounds.