Five players finished in double-figures for the Cougars on Saturday and all nine players who entered the game scored.
MORRIS, Minn.– The University of Minnesota Morris men’s basketball team picked up its opening conference win of the season on Saturday with an 80-74 triumph over Crown College. The victory lifts the Cougars to 5-8 (1-2 UMAC) on the season.
An excellent first-half display put Minnesota Morris ahead by 12 at the break, 39-27, and helped the Cougars ward off a comeback attempt from the Storm in the second half. The halftime lead was spurred on by an 11-0 run started by a three-pointer from Jaret Johnson that gave the Cougars a 27-23 lead. Pal Dak, Noah Kannegiesser, and Tath Dak all added finishes from close-in to push the lead up to 33-23 before Kannegiesser was fouled and knocked down a pair to make it a 35-23 game. Crown was held to only four points in the final six minutes of the opening half as the Cougars were able to stretch their lead.
Both teams came out firing offensively in the second half and a litany of Crown three-pointers pulled the visitors to within a pair at 56-54 with just under 12 minutes to play. Will McBee came to the rescue of the Cougars as he scored on three straight possessions to build the Minnesota Morris lead back to eight, 62-54. The UMN Morris lead was still only three, 66-63, following an Alec Testerman bucket with 5:41 remaining, but the Cougars put the game away with an 8-0 run that stretched to nearly four minutes as the Crown offense went silent. Minnesota Morris was able to ice the contest late as Dillon Haider and Kenneth Riley both knocked down their foul shots in the final minute.
The Cougars ended the day with five double-figure scorers, led by 13 apiece from Kannegiesser and Riley. Haider finished with 12, while Johnson and Ian Carlin each chipped in 10. McBee finished with nine points and seven rebounds, including five on the offensive end. Riley led the Cougars with eight boards and five assists.
Minnesota Morris heads on the road next weekend for its first two UMAC away contests of the season. First up is a Jan. 14 matchup in Ashland, Wis. at Northland College starting at 7:15 p.m.