The Golden Eagles displayed great balance all-around from the on-set of Saturday's exhibition as they were able to 11 players into the score column.
The University of Minnesota Crookston men’s basketball team was able to spread the ball around with 19 assists and five players in double figures as they shut the door on the University of Northwestern (Minn.) 104-70.
The game was the first and only exhibition tilt for the Golden Eagles. It pitted the Golden Eagles against NCAA Division II foe Northwestern-St. Paul. The Eagles out of Northwestern-St. Paul have a great history in NCAA Division III as they are just two years removed from seven-consecutive NCAA Division III Tournament berths. The Eagles made it to the third round in 2014-15 and won the National Christian College Athletic Association National Championship in 2009-10.
The Golden Eagles displayed great balance all-around from the on-set of Saturday’s exhibition as they were able to 11 players into the score column, including five in double-digits. Harrison Cleary (Jr., G, Oak Creek, Wis.) showed why he was All-NSIC First Team and D2CCAA All-America Honorable Mention. Cleary finished with 22 points on 7-20 from the field and 3-of-7 from beyond the arc. Maybe more impressive, were his six assists and six rebounds for Minnesota Crookston.
Chase Knickerbocker (Sr., G/F, Annandale, Minn.) returned to the floor in a game atmosphere for the first time since an injury took him out of the second half of the season Dec. 30. Knickerbocker quickly displayed why he was missed as his great shooting touch and length were evident throughout. He finished with 17 points on 7-of-13 from the field and 3-of-4 from distance. Knickerbocker added eight points.
Josh Collins (Sr., F, Minneapolis, Minn.) finished with 10 points and four boards as the University of North Dakota transfer had a strong game as he finished well at the hoop and brought energy to the post for Minnesota Crookston. Ben Juhl (So., G, Clive, Iowa) added 14 points on 5-of-8 from the field, while Brian Sitzmann (R-Fr., G, Savage, Minn.) made his collegiate debut with 10 points and six boards off the bench.
Javier Nicolau (Jr., F/C, Castellon, Spain) added nine point and three rebounds, while Gable Smith (R-Sr., F/C, Lodi, Wis.) was a stat-sheet stuffer with six points, seven boards, and six steals.
The Golden Eagles were 38-of-78 for 48.7 percent. Minnesota Crookston shot 12-of-24 from beyond the arc for 50 percent and 16-of-18 for 88.9 percent from the stipe. The Golden Eagles outrebounded the Eagles 51-42.
Northwestern-St. Paul was led by Anderson Bazile, Jr. with 25 points on 10-of-13 from the field. Caleb Hageman added 14 points, while Brady Bellefeuille had seven points. The Eagles were 28-of-77 from the field for 36.4 percent. They shot 8-of-31 for 25.8 percent from beyond the arc and 6-of-8 for 75.0 percent from the charity stripe.
Minnesota Crookston got off to a quick start as they used an 11-2 start to propel them against Northwestern-St. Paul. The Golden Eagles were paced in the early going by five points from Knickerbocker and four from Collins. Minnesota Crookston pushed their lead out to 17-4 on a Nicolau bucket.
The Eagles were able to get the lead down to 17-7 on a Noah Hill old-fashioned three-point play. However, Minnesota Crookston came right back with back-to-back triples from Cleary and Malcolm Cohen (R-Jr., G/F, Detroit, Mich.) to push the lead out to 23-7. The Golden Eagles took their lead out to 28-11 on a Sitzmann three and pushed it to 34-13 on a Nicolau bucket.
Northwestern-St. Paul made a late charge in the first half as they cut the deficit to 12 with a minute remaining on a Colton Simmer bucket. Smith hit a basket late in the half to push the lead out to 14 going into the break.
Minnesota Crookston used buckets from Smith and Collins to lift them to a 51-33 advantage early in the second half. A trey from Bellefeuille brought Northwestern-St. Paul within 15. However, the Golden Eagles came back with an 11-0 run ignited by two Juhl triples to lead 62-36.
Northwestern-St. Paul chipped away at the lead to get it down to a 15-point deficit on a Bazile three-pointer with 12:13 remaining. However, the Golden Eagles responded and pushed the advantage back out to 28 on a Juhl basket with 6:37 left in the game.
Minnesota Crookston would continue to hold strong as they won 104-70 to exit the exhibition slate on a strong note.
The Golden Eagles will open conference play Nov. 10 and 11 against Arkansas Tech University and University of Arkansas-Monticello at the Gangelhoff Center in St. Paul, Minn.