The Golden Eagles' record (5-4) is above .500 for the first time this season.
A 20-2 run to open the game set the tone in a dominant 88-64 win for the University of Minnesota Crookston men’s basketball team over Mayville State University Tues., Dec. 5 at Lysaker Gymnasium. The Golden Eagles did not trail in the game as they led by as many as 41 points with 13:15 remaining in the game. Mayville State was able to make a late charge to cut it to a 24-point deficit with the Golden Eagle reserves in the game.
Minnesota Crookston improved to 5-4 (2-1 NSIC) with Tuesday’s win. The 5-4 start for the Golden Eagles is the best mark over nine games for the program since the 2010-11 season. Minnesota Crookston closes out their non-conference slate with a 3-3 record as they play only NSIC teams the rest of the way. Mayville State falls to 6-3 on the season after picking up a win over NAIA nationally ranked foe University of Jamestown last weekend.
The Golden Eagle defense held their third opponent of the season under 70 points as they were suffocating on the evening, limiting the Comets to just 22 points in the first half.
Minnesota Crookston spread the ball around on the evening with three players scoring in double figures. Alan Hodge, Jr. (Jr., G, Dallas, Texas) scored a career-high 27 points on 11-of-18 from the field as he shot 61.1 percent on the evening. In addition, Hodge was 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Harrison Cleary (So., G, Oak Creek, Wis.) added 17 points on 6-of-14 from the field. He chipped in four assists and had zero turnovers for the evening. Ben Juhl (Fr., G, Clive, Iowa) finished with 16 points on 6-of-11 from the field.
Gable Smith (R-Jr., F, Lodi, Wis.) led the team with 10 rebounds and added eight points and five blocks. Smith leads the league in blocks with 29. He is averaging 3.2 blocks per game on the season. Javier Nicolau (So., F/C, Castellon, Spain) came off the bench for eight points and four boards, while Chase Knickerbocker (Jr., G/F, Annandale, Minn.) chipped in five points and five rebounds.
The Golden Eagles shot 36-of-66 from the field for 54.4 percent and connected on 9-of-21 for 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. In addition, they were 7-of-8 for 87.5 percent from the charity stripe. Minnesota Crookston scored 80 or more points for the sixth time on the season as they have had a high-powered offensive attack that is averaging 84.7 points per game on the season.
Mayville State was unable to get their offensive threats going on the evening. Their leading scorer on the season Daniel Lindgren, who averages 16.4 points per game, was held to just five points. North Star Athletic Association Player of the Week Gorg Alhag was held to just three points and three rebounds. The Mayville State starters accounted for just 15 points as the bench scored 49 points for the game.
As their leading scorers were shut down on the night, the Comets looked to Max Cooper to lead the way with 14. Cooper came into the game averaging just 1.4 points per game. Gonzalo Munoz added eight points and five boards, while Garek Droog had seven points.
Mayville State shot 23-of-63 for the game for 36.5 percent. They were 6-of-21 for 28.6 percent from behind the three-point line and 12-of-17 for 70.6 percent from the charity stripe. The Golden Eagles held the Comets to just 27.7 percent from the field in the first half. Mayville State edged Minnesota Crookston on the glass 37-35.
The Golden Eagles rushed to a 20-2 advantage out of the gate led by 10 points from Hodge. The Comets would be able to cut the lead to 14 points with 2:21 left in the half following a pair of Cooper free throws. However, Minnesota Crookston ended the half like they started it as they closed the frame with a 12-0 run paced by eight points from Cleary down the stretch. The Golden Eagles went into the break with a 48-22 lead on the Comets.
Hodge led Minnesota Crookston with 16 points in the first half, while Cleary added 12 points.
The Comets cut the lead to 23 points early in the second half following a pair of Lindgren free throws. Minnesota Crookston stopped the run right there as a 21-3 onslaught made it 71-30 for the biggest lead of the game for the Golden Eagles. The spurt was ignited by nine points from Hodge.
Minnesota Crookston pulled their starters for the final seven minutes and that would be when Mayville State made a late charge as they pulled within 22 points on a Munoz trey with 40 seconds left. A Nate Lorenz (Jr., F/C, Breckenridge, Minn.) bucket in the final 20 seconds gave Minnesota Crookston an 88-64 win.
The Golden Eagles head into a challenging road trip in NSIC play as they take on perennial NSIC North power Minnesota State University Moorhead Fri., Dec. 8 and No. 16 Northern State University Sat., Dec. 9.