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Basketball: Cougars throttle Martin Luther

The University of Minnesota Morris women’s basketball team stretched its UMAC win streak after an 89-39 win over Martin Luther Wednesday, Jan. 9, in Morris.

Combining for 35 points, Abby Van Kempen and Kendra Raths powered Minnesota Morris to its third straight win, fourth straight in conference play.

The Cougars exploded on a 14-3 run in the first quarter thanks in large part to the smothering defense. In the first quarter alone, the Minnesota Morris forced six turnovers that directly were capitalized into points for the Cougars.

In the first half, the Knights turned the ball over 12 times and struggled shooting from the field, going 8-for-23 from the floor, to include 0-for-1 on their only attempt from 3-point range.

As for the Cougars, it wasn't about the Knights stopping them, but more so their play stopping them. Despite having six turnovers in the first half, the Cougars shot 61.3 percent from the floor, connecting on 19 of their 31 attempts.

The duo of Raths and Elli Stevenson continued to state their case as the best 1-2 punch in the conference. Going 6-of-9 from the floor and 1-of-2 from three-point territory, Stevenson led all scorers with 14 points in 11 minutes of action. Raths was equally impressive, going 4-of-6 from the floor for 10 points in 15 minutes of action.

However, it wasn't just them who contributed right away. Six different Cougars registered points in the first half, with Van Kempen closely behind with eight.

Just as the Knights offense appeared to slowly catch a groove, the Cougars offense only extended the margin. With just over three minutes left in the half, Stevenson's three-pointer gave the Cougars a commanding 34-13 lead. It continues to be a good stretch of games for the senior guard, scoring 18 points, one block, two steals and five rebounds against Martin Luther. She was just three assists shy of recording a double-double, finishing with seven.

The lead only grew for the Cougars in the second half.

Raths had another stellar showing, scoring a game-high 19 points and grabbing six rebounds. Her presence on the defensive end of the floor was equally impressive, registering a game-high three blocks and four steals.

Like Raths, Van Kempen's performance down low is a promising sign for the Cougars and a scary sign for opposing teams. Grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds, the junior forward recorded yet another double-double as she also finished the game with 13 points.

In fact, the rebounding and second chance points is what help propel the Cougars to such a win. While both teams had a similar stat line on the boards, the Cougars were able to turn 10 offensive rebounds into 15 second chance points.

The Cougars also held advantages in points off turnovers (29-to-11), bench points (29-to-11) and held a strong grip on the ability to grab points in the paint, scoring 46 of their 89 points down low.

Lexus Eagle Chasing had a strong showing in the second half, scoring seven points for a game total of 10.

The Cougars (8-6, 5-1 UMAC) will travel to Northland College Saturday, Jan. 12, in Ashland.