The University of Minnesota Morris men's basketball team dropped its second straight game Wednesday, Jan. 16, in Morris. The Cougars fell to top UMAC contender Northwestern 94-73.
The biggest key to success for the Eagles was the ability to win on the glass. Northwestern out-rebounded the Cougars 55-30 and held a commanding 20-4 advantage on the offensive glass. Those offensive rebounds turned into 22 second chance points for the Eagles while UMM had just seven second chance points in the game.
Despite the end result, the Cougars seemed to be right in the thick of it as they trailed by one, 44-43, at halftime, but the Eagles hit the gas in the second half, outscoring UMM 50-30 cruise to the win.
The Cougars started the contest matching the Eagles strike-for-strike until James Pendleton's three-pointer at the 14:44-mark of the first half gave Minnesota Morris the first lead of the game. The lead would extend to 20-15 after Trent Jerome found Nick Peterson under the basket.
While the Cougars managed to keep the game within two possessions, Pendleton's four-point play could have been a sign that everything would start to roll in favor of the Cougars. After receiving a pass from Kenneth Riley, Pendleton fought through the foul to sink a corner three near the Eagles' bench. He would also connect on the attempt from the free throw line to give Minnesota Morris the 27-17 lead. Pendleton had his best performance of the season, scoring a game-high 22 points after going 4-of-7 from three-point range and dishing out six assists.
However, the Eagles slowly started to mount a comeback, ripping off a 9-2 run to tie the game at 42-42 with just over three minutes left in the first half. Pendleton's free throw connection would make it a 44-43 contest at the half.
The second half started fairly similar as the first for the Cougars, managing to jump out to a 52-48 lead just three minutes into the action. Minnesota Morris managed to build a 61-56 lead at the 13:47-mark after a Pendleton three pointer. Then the Eagles started to wake up, erasing a five-point lead and swinging it into a 16-3 run to build a 72-66 lead. The Eagles stayed hot and turned a 16-3 run into a massive 35-3 run. In fact, prior to Jeffrey Halverson's jumper at the 1:34-mark of the half, the Cougars last successful attempt came at the 9:54-mark of the second half.
Another factor that gave Minnesota Morris fits was the inability to score off turnover, scoring just one point off a turnover while Northwestern managed to scored 16 points.
Noah Grove and Jeffrey Halverson also joined Pendleton in reaching double-figures with Grove scoring 10 points while Halverson finished with 15.
The Cougars (6-10, 4-4 UMAC) will travel to Wisconsin to face UW-Superior Saturday, Jan. 19, in Superior. The Cougars won the first matchup 84-77 on Dec. 8, in Morris. Tip-off is set for 4:45 p.m.