The Golden Eagles continue their historic season as they improve to 14-12 (7-10 NSIC).
CROOKSTON, Minn. – The University of Minnesota Crookston men’s basketball team hit key shots down the stretch as they took down a NCAA Division II powerhouse in Minnesota State University, Mankato Fri., Feb. 8 at Lysaker Gymnasium in Crookston, Minn. The Golden Eagles utilized a balanced offensive effort with Harrison Cleary (Jr., G, Oak Creek, Wis.) leading the way with 27 points. Malcolm Cohen (Jr., G/F, Detroit, Mich.) added a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Chase Knickerbocker (Sr., G/F, Annandale, Minn.) came off the bench for 12 points.
Knickerbocker hit a key three for the Golden Eagles to give Minnesota Crookston a 35-32 lead going into the locker room. The Golden Eagles also obtained a key shot from Ben Juhl (So., G, Clive, Iowa) to put the team ahead eight points with just over a minute left in the game. Prior to Juhl’s shot, Minnesota State had been making a charge as they had cut the lead to two points with 3:24 remaining. Juhl’s three-pointer was the centerpiece of what equated to a five point-play set up by offensive rebounds by Cohen and Josh Collins (Sr., F, Minneapolis, Minn.) off missed free throw shots. The five-point swing helped the Minnesota Crookston to one of the program’s biggest wins.
The Golden Eagles continue their historic season as they improve to 14-12 (7-10 NSIC). Minnesota Crookston’s seventh conference victory, matches their school-record seven NSIC wins set last season. Minnesota Crookston also builds on their success at the friendly confines of Lysaker Gymnasium. The Golden Eagles are 11-1 at their home arena this season. Minnesota Crookston currently sits in sixth place in the NSIC North standings. The Golden Eagles are one game back of University of Mary in fifth place, and three games behind University of Minnesota Duluth in fourth place.
Minnesota State falls to 15-8 (11-6 NSIC) with Friday’s loss. The Mavericks remain in second place in the NSIC South. Minnesota State has historically been one of the strongest teams in the NCAA Division II Central Region. The Mavericks have been to the NCAA Tournament in five of the previous six seasons. Friday’s win for Minnesota Crookston is the first in school history over Minnesota State.
Cleary shot 7-of-15 from the field for the Golden Eagles. The junior was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, and an unblemished 10-of-10 from the charity stripe. Cleary moved to fifth all-time on the career NSIC scoring charts, surpassing Augustana great Cody Schilling. He needs 39 points to move past another Viking great in Cameron McCaffrey for fourth place. In addition, Cleary is also closing in on the Minnesota Crookston school scoring record. He needs just five points to surpass Minnesota Crookston Hall of Famer Joe Hasz, who scored 1,917 career points to sit at the top of the scoring charts for nearly 16 seasons. Hasz was one of the NSIC’s best players from 1999-03. He held the conference scoring mark from 2003-12, until he was surpassed by Schilling.
Cohen’s double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds came on 5-of-14 from the field. Cohen was feeling it from beyond the arc, where he connected on 4-of-9 of his attempts. Knickerbocker scored all of his points on three-pointers, as he shot 4-of-10 from behind the three-point line. Javier Nicolau (Jr., F/C, Castellon, Spain) continued his strong play of late, as he fell just shy of a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. Collins chipped in seven points and seven boards.
The Golden Eagles shot 24-of-59 from the field for 40.7 percent. Minnesota Crookston had a strong night from beyond the arc where they were 13-of-27 for 48.1 percent. The Golden Eagles were 16-of-22 for 72.7 percent from the charity stripe.
Minnesota Crookston was able to win the game on the boards where they bested the conference’s second best rebounding team 40-38. The Golden Eagles secured 13 offensive rebounds on the night. Minnesota Crookston also forced 15 turnovers.
The Golden Eagles also played strong defense as they held a team came in averaging 83.1 points per game to just 72 points.
The Mavericks were led by Juwan McCloud with 18 points on 8-of-18 from the field. Kevin Krieger added 17 points and eight rebounds. Cameron Kirksey, Carlos Anderson, and Carter Asche each chipped in with nine points apiece.
Minnesota State was 27-of-61 from the field for 44.3 percent. The Mavericks were 8-of-23 for 34.8 percent from beyond the arc. Minnesota State shot 10-of-16 for 62.5 percent from the foul line.
The Golden Eagles opened the game with a 7-3 advantage guided by a quick start catapulted by five points from Cohen. Four points from Cleary, along with a Knickerbocker trey, widened the gap to a 14-3 lead with 14:21 remaining in the opening stanza.
Minnesota State closed the deficit to within 16-11 following a fast-break bucket from McCloud. A Cleary jumper pushed the lead back out to 18-11. However, the Mavericks responded with a 5-0 run as they were able to get the ball down the court quickly for fast-break points to cut the deficit to 18-16.
A Cleary three-pointer put Minnesota Crookston back up 21-16 with 9:58 left in the half. The Mavericks were able to pull within two points on an Asche triple. The Golden Eagles held off the charge for the moment as Cohen nailed a trey to extend the advantage back out to five at 27-22.
A quick 4-0 run ignited by back-to-back baskets from Kirskey brought Minnesota State within 27-26 with 5:22 left in the first stanza. Minnesota Crookston would go up 32-28 as Knickerbocker found Chase Johnson (R-So., F/C, La Crosse, Wis.) for the quick two.
Kirksey guided the path for the Mavericks as he scored four-straight points to knot the game up 32-32 with 1:39 left in the half. Minnesota Crookston would have a finally opportunity in the half. Minnesota State keyed on Cleary as they looked to trap him on one side. The junior was able to spot Knickerbocker for the wide-open three-pointer, which he sank to put the Golden Eagles ahead 35-32 at the half.
The Mavericks got into an early groove out of the locker room as they opened the second frame on a 6-0 run to go ahead 38-35 propelled by four points from McCloud. Nicolau led the response for the Golden Eagles as the junior scored eight points, secured two rebounds, had an assist and a block in a key stretch to put Minnesota Crookston back up 45-38 with 15:56 left in the game.
Minnesota Crookston did not fold as they sliced the deficit down to 52-50 on a Krieger hoop. Back-to-back triples from Knickerbocker and Cleary extended the lead back out to 58-50 in favor of the Golden Eagles with 10:20 left in the tilt. A three-pointer from Knickerbocker pushed the advantage out to 10 points at 63-53 with 7:45 remaining.
A quick 4-0 run, stamped by a fast-break dunk by Anderson, cut Minnesota Crookston’s lead to 63-57. A pair of free throws from Cleary held Minnesota Crookston off for a moment as the lead grew to 65-57.
However, Minnesota State had another charge left in them, as they utilized a 6-0 run to trim the lead to 65-63 with 3:24 left in the game. That is when the Golden Eagles came up with a big stretch guided by a pair of offensive rebounds from Collins and Cohen and a Juhl three-pointer for a quick 5-0 run. The rally put Minnesota Crookston ahead 71-63 with 1:11 remaining in the game.
Minnesota State was able to put up a fight down the stretch as they trimmed the advantage to three at 75-72 following a Krieger three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining. A pair of Cleary free throws sealed the win for the Golden Eagles 77-72.
Minnesota Crookston remains at home as they host Concordia University-St. Paul Sat., Feb. 9 at 5:30 p.m. Saturday is Alumni Day for the men’s basketball program.