UMC ends the regular-season with a 16-15 (9-13 NSIC) mark.
ST. CLOUD – The University of Minnesota Crookston men’s basketball team fell 90-74 in the regular-season finale to St. Cloud State University Sat., Feb. 23 at Halenbeck Hall. The Huskies closed the game on a 14-3 run in what was a very close game throughout Saturday. The Golden Eagles trailed by just two points at 71-69 with 4:32 remaining, but were unable to close the tilt out despite a strong effort overall.
UMC ends the regular-season with a 16-15 (9-13 NSIC) mark. The Golden Eagles end the regular-season with their first record over .500 in the NCAA Division II era. St. Cloud State moves to 21-8 (16-6 NSIC) with the victory. The Golden Eagles will be the No. 7 seed in the NSIC North and will play at No. 2 seed in the NSIC South Augustana University Wed., Feb. 27 in the first round of the NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament.
The Golden Eagles were led by Harrison Cleary (Jr., G, Oak Creek, Wis.), who had 29 points on 10-of-21 from the field, 4-of-8 from beyond the arc, and 5-of-5 from the charity stripe. Cleary became the first player in school history to score 2,000 points, doing it in just three years. In addition, Cleary has scored 1,522 career points in NSIC play. He is third all-time in conference action. Cleary is one point behind Southwest Minnesota State University’s Ryan Bruggeman, and 410 points behind St. Cloud State University’s Gage Davis in first place. Cleary moved past Augustana University great Daniel Jansen on the all-time list Saturday night.
Chase Knickerbocker (Sr., G/F, Annandale, Minn.) put together one of the best games of his career close to his hometown. Knickerbocker notched 23 points on 8-of-12 from the field, and a perfect 5-of-5 from beyond the arc. Knickerbocker has 944 career points. Knickerbocker needs 56 points to become the fourth player in school history to reach 1,000 points.
Brian Sitzmann (R-Fr., G, Savage, Minn.) added seven points, while Gable Smith (R-Sr., F/C, Lodi, Wis.) finished with six points.
The Golden Eagles had a strong shooting night as they were 26-of-53 from the field for 49.1 percent. Minnesota Crookston was an impressive 11-of-19 from beyond the arc for 57.9 percent. The Golden Eagles shot 11-of-12 for 91.7 percent from the stripe.
UMC was out-rebounded by the Huskies 27-24. Minnesota Crookston had 12 assists to 12 turnovers.
St. Cloud State was led by the NSIC’s all-time leading scorer Gage Davis, who had 36 points on 12-of-18 from the field, 2-of-4 from beyond the arc, and a perfect 10-of-10 from the stripe. Brindley Theisen added 24 points, including an impressive 7-of-12 from distance. Trevon Marshall chipped in 10 points.
The Huskies shot 32-of-55 for 58.2 percent. St. Cloud State was 11-of-21 for 52.4 percent from beyond the arc. The Huskies shot 15-of-17 from the foul line for 88.2 percent. St. Cloud State moved the ball around well, as they had 18 assists to eight turnovers.
Knickerbocker started out the game as he drained a triple to put Minnesota Crookston up 3-0, in front of his many supporters who came over from nearby Annandale, Minn. St. Cloud State knotted the game up 5-5 with a basket from Davis. The Golden Eagles took the lead back 7-5 as Cleary dished it off to Javier Nicolau (Jr., F/C, Castellon, Spain) in the post for a pair. A Knickerbocker trey after a near turnover for the Golden Eagles extended the lead out to 10-5.
The Huskies were able to cut the deficit to 10-7 on a Davis bucket. However, Minnesota Crookston countered in a big way with a Cleary jumper, and Knickerbocker’s third three-pointer of the first nine points, as they pushed the lead out to 15-7.
St. Cloud State cut the advantage to 15-10 on a Theisen triple. Minnesota Crookston moved the lead out to 17-10 on a pair of Cleary free throws before the Huskies cut the deficit to 17-13 using another Theisen trey.
A Darin Viken (Sr., G, Fosston, Minn.) triple extended the lead to 20-13 for Minnesota Crookston. St. Cloud State came charging back with a 7-1 run using a pair of Marshall buckets, and another Theisen triple, as they cut the deficit to 21-20.
The Huskies took over the lead 23-21 utilizing a Davis three-pointer. Minnesota Crookston took the lead back 24-23 with a Cleary trey. However, St. Cloud State came right back with an old-fashioned three-point play to move the advantage to 26-24. Theisen’s fourth triple of the game extended the lead to 29-24. The Golden Eagles pulled within 29-27 as Cleary scored his 2,000th career point on a triple. A Sean Smith dunk pushed St. Cloud State’s lead out to 31-27.
The Golden Eagles countered using four-straight points from Knickerbocker as they knotted the game up 31-31. The Huskies took the lead back 33-31 as Theisen found Davis on a transition play, which he put a stamp on with the dunk. Minnesota Crookston was not down for long though as Knickerbocker hit his fourth three-pointer of the half to go ahead 34-33.
St. Cloud State took the advantage 35-34 on a Sean Smith dunk, but the Golden Eagles came right back on the other end with a Sitzmann hoop to move into the lead 36-35. Minnesota Crookston went into the locker room with the 38-35 lead as Gable Smith cleaned up a Cleary miss and sent it backwards over his head for a buzzer-beating lay-in.
Davis got two quick baskets for St. Cloud State as the Huskies took the lead early in the second half 39-38. Minnesota Crookston responded as Cohen sank a three for the first points of the second stanza for the Golden Eagles, as they took the 41-41 advantage.
The Huskies took the lead 45-41 as Adam Heede-Andersen found Davis in the post for a pair. St. Cloud State extended their lead to 48-41 on a Sean Smith fast-break dunk. The Golden Eagles halted a 7-0 run for the Huskies with a Gable Smith basket on the other end. The Huskies responded as Jace Kitchen nailed a trey to push the lead out to 51-43. A Marshall fast-break dunk pushed the lead to a 53-43 margin with 14:12 left in the game.
The Golden Eagles pulled back to within 53-47 as Knickerbocker and Cleary each drained jumpers for a quick 4-0 spurt. Minnesota Crookston extended their run to 7-0 as Cleary drained a triple to cut the deficit to 53-50. St. Cloud State stopped the run as Davis hit 3-of-3 from the charity stripe to push the lead back out to 56-50 with 12:24 remaining in the tilt.
UMC got the points right back as Knickerbocker hit his fifth three-pointer of the game to cut the lead to 56-53. The Golden Eagles pulled to within 58-56 as Sitzmann completed the old-fashioned three-point play. St. Cloud State responded with an old-fashioned triple of their own from Theisen to move the lead back out to 61-56. Theisen hit a pair of crucial three-pointers to put the lead back at 67-56 despite all of Minnesota Crookston’s efforts over the previous stretch.
Minnesota Crookston did not give in as Cleary and Sitzmann hit a pair of baskets to bring the Golden Eagles back within 67-60. Davis drained a pair at the line to move the lead for St. Cloud State back out to 69-60.
The Golden Eagles responded as they utilized a Knickerbocker jumper, along with a Cleary trey, to cut the lead to 71-67. Smith hit a pair at the charity stripe to cut the lead to 71-69 with just under five minutes left in the tilt. The Huskies countered with a quick 5-0 turnaround as Theisen drained another three-pointer to extend the lead to 76-69.
UMC cut the deficit to 76-71 with a basket from Cleary. St. Cloud State responded with another 4-0 run using a Kitchen basket to push the advantage to 80-71. Minnesota Crookston countered with a three-point play from Cleary to come within 80-74 with two minutes remaining in the tilt.
St. Cloud State’s Kitchen drained what was the dagger with a trey to put the lead out to 83-74. The Huskies closed out the game for a 90-74 win over the Golden Eagles.
UMC will enter NSIC/Sanford Health Tournament play Wednesday, February 27 as they take on Augustana University at Sioux Falls Arena in Sioux Falls, S.D.