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Three-point shots propel Cougars to 4th place in UMAC

The University of Minnesota, Morris men's basketball team used three-point shots to defeat Northland College and St. Scholastica at home over the weekend and move into fourth place in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.

The Cougars are 7-5 in the UMAC and 12-11 overall going into the final pair of games this weekend at the P.E. Center in Morris. The Cougars host Bethany Lutheran and Martin Luther as they try to hang onto that fourth-place spot for a berth in the UMAC tournament.

UM-Morris 91, Northland 64

The Cougars got 44 points from the bench on Friday as they defeated Northland 91-64.

Tyler Pendleton had a team-high 17 points, 15 coming from made three pointers. Three other Cougars finished in double figures and the Cougars pounded the ball inside outscoring Northland 48-22 in points in the paint.  UMM forced 21 turnovers, outscoring the Lumberjacks 28-7 in points off turnovers.

UMM shot 54.5 percent from the field and were 11-of-22 from three-point range. The Cougars rank sixth in the Division III in three-point shooting field goal percentage, connecting on over 40 percent of their attempts.  

The first two minutes were action packed as the Cougars held a 7-6 lead. Morris then went on a 23-5 run, taking a 30-11 lead with just under 9:30 left in the game. The Lumberjacks never got closer than 14 in the first half as UMM took a 47-27 lead into the halftime break.

Both teams shot over 50 percent in the first half, the difference came down to the Cougars outscoring NC 15-2 in the paint. UMM outscored Northland 28-6 in the paint and 18-0 in bench points.

Brendon Foss had eight points, six rebounds, four steals, three assists and a block in the first half. Logan Orazem had back-to-back layups out of the first-half break as the lead increased to 24 at 51-27.

The Lumberjacks were only able to get the lead under 20 in the second half. Evan Reller hit a pair of free throws with 6:16 left in the game to increase the Cougars’ lead to 30 points at 83-53. Kevin Heysse had his first three points as a Cougar in the second half.

UM-Morris 75, St. Scholastica 68

In a physical game Saturday, the Cougars defeated St. Scholastica 75-68.

UMM caught fire from three-point range, hitting 10 of 17 shots. After missing their first five three-point attempts, the Cougars connected on 10 of their next 12, including all six in the second half.

Orazem had a team-high 21 points, with 6-of-8 shooting from the field, 4-of-6 from three-point land, and 5-of-6 from the foul line. He also added a team-high seven rebounds in the contest. 

Steve Birman was 4-of-5 from behind the arc as he scored 14 and Ben Hoidal had 13 points off the bench.

The Cougars as a team shot 55.6 percent from the field. It was their third straight game shooting over 50 percent from both the field and behind the arc.

Despite turning the ball over four more times than the Saints, the Cougars still outscored CSS 26-18 in points off turnovers. UMM also got to the foul line 25 times and converted seven more free throws than the Saints.

Neither team had a lead larger than four until Orazem hit a layup with 11:38 left in the first half giving UMM a 16-11 lead. After the Saints cut the lead to one, Orazem connected with another layup and then Hoidal and Birman hit threes to give UMM a 24-17 lead midway through the first half.

The lead got as large as 10 points in the first half as Orazem hit a three pointer with six minutes left. The Saints would close the gap to four just two minutes later and the Cougars would go into halftime with a 37-33 lead.

St. Scholastica tied the game right out of the break, but back-to-back three pointers from Birman gave UMM a 43-37 lead. Once again the Saints responded and tied the game at 43.

A flagrant foul was called on the Saints with the game tied and Hoidal took advantage hitting three free throws giving UMM the lead. CSS tied the game at 51 and then again at 53 with 9:24 left. Orazem hit his fourth three pointer of the game to spark an 11-0 run as Morris took control with a 64-53 lead with 7:04 left. Two three pointers and an old fashioned three-point play told the story of the run. Birman hit a three pointer with 3:39 left in the game to increase the lead to 12 and the Saints never got any closer than seven.