UMC falls to Upper Iowa and Winona State at home.
The University of Minnesota Crookston men's basketball leading scorer is done for the season after suffering a knee injury over the holiday break. According to head coach Jeff Oseth, senior guard Ashton Harrell was out jogging when he misstepped and broke his knee cap. Harrell averaged 15.3 points per game over 10 games this season.
"Ashton was the heart and soul of the team," coach Oseth said. "He worked really hard in practice. We'll need to adjust on the fly. Our goals have changed, at least in my mind. We need to close the gap. We need to be changing defenses and keep teams off balance. We are not good at doing just one thing. We change defenses quite a bit. We need to push together here and close the gap and be in games down the stretch.We are a work in progress even more so now."
The Golden Eagles dropped both of its home games over the weekend, falling 97-66 to Upper Iowa Friday and 88-52 to Winona State Saturday.
"We were hoping we could hang with those guys," coach Oseth said of Upper Iowa. "They have been averaging around 84 points per game so we know they score a lot of points. We hung with them for a while then things went south. We had a nice little lead before half.
Winona State, who is receiving votes in the national poll, moves to 13-2 and an unblemished 8-0 in the NSIC.
"I was really pleased with the way we responded to Winona's hot start," Oseth continued. "We gave everything we had and even had a lead for a little while in the first half. We cut it to eight at the 14-minute mark of the first half. Winona is really, really good. We just couldn't get back into the game. We shot the ball miserably that night. We had open looks, we just didn't make them."
The Golden Eagles fall to 4-8 (1-7 NSIC), as they drop their sixth straight. They will hit the road next weekend as they head to Wayne State Friday, Jan. 10 for an 8 p.m. meeting. They will then face Augustana at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11.
The Golden Eagles have also lost freshman forward Konner Goettsche, who has blood clot issues, for the season. Junior guard Lucas Reller, who played four minutes against Upper Iowa and was out against Winona State, has been battling knee issues the last few weeks.
UIU vs. UMC
Upper Iowa shot over 50 percent from the field and connected on 13 treys to spoil Minnesota Crookston's home opener for the new year 97-66.
UMC was led by 21 points from senior forward Brandon Burns (Baton Rouge, La.). Burns was 10-of-18 from the field Friday night. Sophomore guard Derrick Redd (Menifee, Calif.) came off the bench for 12 points for the Golden Eagles while junior guard Kevin Larson (New Ulm, Minn.) was close to a triple-double on the night with nine points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
The Golden Eagles finished the night shooting 27-of-60 for 45.0 percent from the field. UMC struggled from three connecting on 3-of-18 shots from downtown. UMC had 18 turnovers on the game. The Golden Eagles were out-rebounded 41-35 by the Peacocks.
Upper Iowa dominated from beyond the arch on the night, connecting on 13-of-32 threes for 40.6 percent. The Peacocks were led by three treys from Josh Weeber and Grant Lang. Upper Iowa finished the night shooting 36-of-71 for 50.7 percent from the field. Four Upper Iowa players finished with double-figure scoring led by 19 points from Weeber. Lang added 15 points, while Joey Woods had 13 points and Bo Pagel came off the bench for 10 points.
The Peacocks had a huge second half as they out-scored UMC 56-40 in the second frame. Upper Iowa was 21-of-36 for 58.3 percent on the half and connected on eight threes in the frame.
Upper Iowa had 29 points off turnovers for the game and accumulated 26 second-chance points.
WSU vs. UMC
UMC hung with NSIC power Winona State University for moments in Saturday's game and even led in the first half, but a 44-16 run to end the game delivered a 88-52 win for the Warriors.
The Golden Eagles were led on the game by 14 points from Redd, who earned his first start of the season. Redd was 5-of-10 from the field and also connected on two treys. Redd got nine of the first 11 points for the Golden Eagles as UMC got out to an 11-10 lead at the 13:08 mark of the first half.
In addition to Redd, sophomore forward John Hughes (Tualatin, Ore.) added a near double-double with eight points and eight rebounds, while junior forward Tyler West, Jr. added nine points. The Golden Eagles struggled shooting from the field as they were just 17-of-59 for 28.8 percent and were 5-of-23 for 21.7 from beyond the arc. In addition Minnesota Crookstron struggled with ball control on the night with eight assists to 17 turnovers on the night.
Defensively, the Golden Eagles did well shutting down Winona State's top two scorers coming into the game. Riley Bambenek and Taylor Cameron were averaging around 25 points per game coming into Saturday, and were held to a combined three points on the night. However, the Warriors would have great balance from their other players on the night to make up for UMC shutting down the pair. Winona State had six players score in double figures and had 52 of their 88 points accounted for by the bench.
Starter Kellen Taylor led the Warriors with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds while fellow starter Mark Blacklock added 12 points. Off the bench, Isaiah Gray poured in 12 points, while Josh Mongan, Conrad Masberg and Kyle Bauman each had 10. Mongan also dished the ball well to his Winona State teammates, with six helpers on the night.
Winona State finished the game shooting 31-of-57 for 54.4 percent and were 4-of-17 for 23,5 percent from beyond the arc. In addition, the Warriors shot lights out from the charity stripe, connecting on 22-of-26 free throw shots for 84.6 percent.