Exchanging leads back and forth for much of the first half, Minnesota Morris was able to pull away in the second half for a 77-67 win over Martin Luther College Wednesday, January 9, in Morris. It was the second win in a row for the Cougars and extended the Knights losing streak to three.
The Cougars were able to regain the lead at the 6:48-mark of the contest after Noah Grove's lay-up gave UMM a 20-18 lead. That appeared to be the spark Minnesota Morris needed as the Cougars were able to slowly pull away from the Knights. It also appeared to be the spark that Grove needed as well. Just minutes after giving the Cougars’ the lead, the senior guard nailed a three-point attempt from the corner to make it the largest lead of the half at nine points, 34-25. Grove would finishing the scoring out in the first half with another lay-up to give the Cougars an 11-point lead at the break, 36-25. It was a phenomenal showing from Grove with a game-high 14 points in the first half in 15 minutes of action. He finished the contest with a game-high 24 points.
In the second half, the rest of the Cougars appeared to wake up. After scoring just four points in the first half, Jeffrey Halverson exploded in the second half for 15 points, but did much of his damage on the boards. In 31 minutes of action, the senior forward grabbed a game-high eight rebounds with seven of them coming on the defensive end of the floor. His presence down low was a key reason why the Cougars were able to score 22 points in the paint.
While the Cougars were only able to score 10 second chance points, Trey Heinsius was a key reason they scored anything. While he also exploded for a game total of 11 points, he grabbed a game-high six offensive rebounds. His three point attempt at the 10:46-mark of the second half extended the Cougars' lead to 58-43.
In fact, Heinsius' three point attempt also gave the Cougars the largest lead of the first half at 15. For much of the final 10 minutes, the Cougars held a 10-point or more.
The Cougars also received support from the bench as three players (Nick Peterson, Trent Jerome, Kenneth Riley) combined for 15 points off the bench. Playing 18 minutes, Jerome was another spark for the Cougars, scoring nine points while also tallying an assist. The lone stat line that the Cougars did not hold an advantage in was in points off turnovers, scoring 11 points while the Knights were able to connect for 17.
The Cougars (6-8, 4-2 UMAC) will travel to Northland College on Saturday, Jan. 12, in Ashland.