Looking to make it three straight wins within the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC), the University of Minnesota Morris men's basketball team traveled to Northland College in hopes of not just winning the conference's "Game of the Week" but extend its win streak in the process.
It was a battle late, but the Cougars were unable to close it out, falling 84-73 Saturday, Jan. 12 in front of 102 fans, in Ashland.
Much of the second half was within a five-point grasp, however the Cougars were unable to come within striking distance. The Cougars struggled in transition, giving up 30 points off 25 turnovers. Northland turned the ball over just nine times in the contest. The Cougars also struggled down low, surrendering 34 points in the paint while managing to score just 22.
The dagger for the Cougars was provided early by way of a 20-4 run by the Jacks to start the contest. In fact, Nick Peterson's free throw at the 14:56-mark of the contest was the first point of the game for the Cougars, trailing 17-1. It would take another five minutes for the Cougars to reach double figures after Trey Heinsius connected on a three-point attempt with 9:30 left into the first half. Much of the issue was the Cougars simply being ice cold from the floor, shooting 36 percent from the floor (8-of-22) in the first half and were forced into committing 11 turnovers.The Cougars entered the half trailing 29-36 after mounting a quick run to bring the lead to seven after a jumper from Trent Jerome.
It was a tale of two halves for the Cougars.
After having to climb their way out of a large double-digit deficit for much of the first half, the Cougars started the second half hot. Noah Grove managed to cut the lead to four (42-38) after a pair of successful free throw attempts. Grove followed up with a three pointer just a minute later to cut the lead to a single possession. It has been a great start for Grove in 2019, scoring a team-high 18 points after going 5-of-11 from the floor. In fact, the Cougars hit back-to-back three after Peterson nailed a long jumper to give the game its first tie of the contest.
Aside from Grove, another key performer in the second half was Jeffrey Halverson. After scoring just five points in the first half, the senior forward exploded for 17 points after going 7-of-12 from the floor, to include going 3-of-4 from the free throw line. In fact, a lay up by Halverson would provide the Cougars with the ability to be within a possession of taking the lead.
The Cougars (6-9, 4-3 UMAC) will be back in action against Northwestern at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, in Morris.