A strong shooting performance paved the way for the University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) men’s basketball team in a 94-61 win over MSU-Moorhead in an NSIC game played at Lysaker Gymnasium.
First Half –
Minnesota Crookston’s offense used a torrid start to carry a double-digit lead into halftime. Javier Nicolau (Sr., Castellon, Spain) started the game with a pick-and-roll dunk facilitated by Harrison Cleary (Sr., Oak Creek, WI) before Cleary made a three-pointer giving the Golden Eagles a 5-0 lead. After the Dragons first basket, Cleary added another three-pointer extending Minnesota Crookston’s lead to 8-2. After MSU-Moorhead scored its second basket, UMC used a 7-0 run capped off by a Brian Sitzmann (R-Soph., Savage) three-pointer increasing the Golden Eagles’ lead to 15-4. MSU-Moorhead used a 9-2 run to pull within 19-14 later in the half, but Minnesota Crookston again responded with nine-straight points taking a 28-14 lead with 7:23 to play in the opening frame. Harrison Cleary made two free-throws for the final points of the half as the Golden Eagles carried a 45-32 lead into halftime. “(The strong offense start) is huge,” said UMC head coach Dan Weisse. “We’ve had some struggles early in games, but today we had some guys hit some big shots. I don’t know why it always is, but our defense was fantastic tonight throughout the 40 minutes. I just think the energy does pick up when the ball goes in the hole.”
Second Half –
MSU-Moorhead opened the second-half with the first four points trimming the Dragons’ deficit down to 45-36. That was the closest the visitors’ comeback came to defeating UMC. Reed Miller (Fr., Appleton, WI) made a three-pointer with 14:08 to play increasing UMC’s lead to 55-42 before Harrison Cleary made a lay-up to put the Golden Eagles in front 57-42 with 13:13 to play. “We got enough stops,” noted Weisse. “They’re a potent offense, and they made a couple of runs on offense, but we were moving to the ball. Getting to the free-throw line and trying to get to the rim.” Cleary used a personal 6-0 run to put Minnesota Crookston in front by 19 points. The Golden Eagles cruised the rest of the night, clearing their bench and completing a regular-season sweep of MSU-Moorhead for the first time in program history with a 94-61 win. “It’s been a tough couple of weeks so to come out and play like this, our guys took the performance last night to heart,” explained Weisse. “Our guys played with effort, heart, and togetherness. We were back to having fun.”
Minnesota Crookston improves to 8-8 overall and 4-6 in the NSIC. The Golden Eagles return to the court next Saturday when UMC travels to Winona State for a 7:30 P.M. tip-off on KROX. MSU-Moorhead falls to 9-7 overall and 5-5 in conference play.
|Harrison Cleary||33||4||3 assists|
|Chase Johnson||4||10||4 blocks|
|Ibu Jassey-Demba||2||9||4 assists|