The Golden Eagles' record drops to 9-15.

   Wayne State College ended the game on a 21-14 run as they outlasted the University of Minnesota Crookston men’s basketball team 85-74 Sat., Feb. 3 at Lysaker Gymnasium. The Golden Eagles were up 35-34 at the half and were within two points with just over nine minutes remaining, however they were unable to close out the game as the Wildcats came away with the win.   

   Minnesota Crookston falls to 9-15 (6-12 NSIC) with Saturday’s loss. They earned the split at home on the weekend as they upended Augustana University Friday, prior to Saturday’s loss to the Wildcats. The Golden Eagles remain right in the hunt for a top four spot in the NSIC North. They are currently in fifth place, a game back of Bemidji State University in fourth place. They are currently a half-game ahead of University of Minnesota Duluth.   

    The Golden Eagles need just one more win to surpass their school record for wins, which they currently co-own with the 2000-01 squad. Wayne State improved to 13-13 (8-10 NSIC) with Saturday’s win.

    Minnesota Crookston looked to Ben Juhl (Fr., G, Clive, Iowa), who put up a career-high 21 points on 8-of-12 from the field and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc. Harrison Cleary (So., G, Oak Creek, Wis.) had 23 points, but struggled from the field going 5-of-20 and just 2-of-7 from beyond the arc. Cleary was strong at the line as he was 11-of-13.

     Alan Hodge, Jr. (Jr., G, Dallas, Texas) added nine points and six boards. Gable Smith (R-Jr., F/C, Lodi, Wis.) chipped in six points, six rebounds and five blocks, while Gabrys Sadaunykas (R-Fr., G/F, Vilnius, Lithuania) added eight points off of the bench.

    Minnesota Crookston shot 23-of-57 from the field for 40.4 percent. The Golden Eagles were 8-of-21 from behind the three-point line for 38.1 percent. Minnesota Crookston shot 20-of-25 for 80.0 percent from the charity stripe.

    The Golden Eagles struggled to control the ball Saturday as they had just eight assists to 16 turnovers.

    Wayne State had a balanced night with four players in double figures. Trevin Joseph led the Wildcats with 26 points on 8-of-12 from the field. Joseph was 9-of-10 from the foul line. Kendall Jacks added 18 points and eight boards. Jacks was a perfect 6-of-6 from the stripe. Tony Bonner chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds, while Austin Esters had 12 points off the bench.

    The Wildcats had a strong offensive night going 29-of-57 from the field for 50.9 percent. They were on-fire from the charity stripe as they went 23-of-25 for 92.0 percent. Wayne State went 4-of-12 from beyond the arc for 33.3 percent.

    The Wildcats controlled the glass 34-32. Minnesota Crookston led the offensive boards with 13 paced by four from Smith.

    Wayne State jumped out to an early 4-0 advantage led by four points from Bonner. The Golden Eagles responded to knot it up 4-4 following a Juhl bucket. The two teams would trade baskets until Wayne State used a 6-0 run to move their advantage to 12-6 following a Joseph breakaway dunk. The Wildcats moved their lead to eight points after a Matt Thomas bucket with 11:17 left in the first half. Minnesota Crookston countered with a 20-8 run as they took a 32-28 lead after triples from Juhl and Cleary. The Golden Eagles built their lead out to five points after a Hodge trey with 1:14 remaining in the half. Wayne State closed the opening half on a 4-0 run as a Brian Goodwin fast-break basket pulled them within 35-34 with 43 seconds in the half.

    Cleary led Minnesota Crookston in the first half with 12 points on just 3-of-10 from the field and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe. Juhl added seven points, while Sadaunykas added six points.

    Minnesota Crookston shot 12-of-29 from the field for 41.4 percent. The Golden Eagles were 6-of-13 for 46.2 percent from beyond the arc and were 5-of-8 from the foul line for 62.5 percent in the opening half.

    Wayne State looked to eight first half points from both Joseph and Bonner. The Wildcats were 13-of-29 from the field for 44.8 percent. They shot 0-of-6 from beyond the arc and a perfect 8-of-8 from the stripe.

    The Wildcats took the early lead in the second half as Joseph hit a pair of free throws to make it 36-35. The two teams continued to trade leads for the next six minutes until Wayne State was able to move their lead to 49-45 following an Esters bucket. After a defensive stop, Thomas nailed a trey to extend the Wayne State advantage to 52-45 with 12:37 remaining. Minnesota Crookston fought back with a 4-0 run as they cut the lead to 52-49 on a pair of Sadaunykas free throws. The Wildcats came right back with a 4-0 run of their own to move the lead back out to seven at 56-49 following an Esters basket. Five consecutive points from Juhl brought Minnesota Crookston back within two at 56-54 with 9:14 left in the game. A 4-0 run for Wayne State moved the lead out to 60-54. Minnesota Crookston would have the lead down to four at 64-60 after a pair of Cleary free throws. However, that is as close as it would get as Wayne State closed the game on a 21-14 run in the final five minutes of play.

    Minnesota Crookston will return to action with their final home weekend of the 2017-18 season. The Golden Eagles will take on Northern State University Feb. 9 at 8 p.m. at Lysaker Gymnasium.