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Basketball: Cougars open conference season with road win

Exploding out of the gates with a 19-3 run in the first quarter, the University of Minnesota Morris women’s basketball team never looked back in a 74-36 thumping of the Storm in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) opener Wednesday, Dec. 5, in St. Bonifacius.

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Kendra Raths was a big reason for the quick offense output in the contest. Within that 19-3 run to start the game, the senior from Sartell led the charge with 11 points.

Minnesota Morris extended the lead to 34-7 late in the second quarter after a Emma Atkinson three-pointer. Crown finished the second quarter with with a quick three points to reach double figures for the first time in the contest, but the damage was already done.

Much of the reason for the Cougars' success Wednesday was the ability to capitalize off turnovers. Ten of the Cougars’ 19 points in the first quarter were off turnovers. For the game, Minnesota Morris scored 26 points off turnovers.

Not only did the Cougars hold the advantage in points off turnovers, but they also had a strong showing from the bench, recording 23 points while Crown managed just four points from the reserves.

Minnesota Morris asserted its dominance in the paint, scoring 36 of its 74 points in the paint.

While the Cougars were relatively cold from three-point land (8-for-18), both Atkinson and Abby Van Kempen made the most of their attempts. Atkinson went 2-for-3 from beyond the arch to help guide her to eight points in 11 minutes while Van Kempen finished a perfect 2-for-2.

Raths finished the contest with a team-high 15 points while also strengthening her stance as being a major key in the paint. Her seven rebounds also led the team and she also recorded a pair of blocked shots. Raths also recorded three steals.

Van Kempen's offensive performance went unblemished. In 20 minutes of action, the junior forward was a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor, to include going 2-for-2 from the charity stripe. Van Kempen finished the contest with 14 points. She also grabbed three rebounds and blocked a pair of shots.

The Cougars (4-4, 1-0 UMAC) will play host to the University of Wisconsin Superior in a conference tilt at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, in Morris.