Scorching first-half leads men to 85-77 win over Bethel

Malcolm Cohen scored 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting with six 3-pointers, Harrison Cleary added 22 points and four assists and the Minnesota Crookston men’s basketball team beat Division III Bethel, 85-77, in its preseason exhibition game Wednesday at Lysaker Gymnasium.

After a hot start to the game, the Golden Eagles let the Royals chip into a lead that stretched as high as 23 in the second half. Bethel shot 6-for-11 from downtown after intermission, cutting the lead to six with under a minute remaining, but two dunks by senior center Javier Nicolau put the game on ice.

The tandem of Cohen at power forward and Cleary at point guard was too much for the Royals to handle. The seniors worked off of each other and scored inside and out, while crisp, efficient ball movement ignited Minnesota Crookston’s offense.

The Golden Eagles scored 51 points in the first half on 56 percent shooting with just five turnovers. Bethel never held the lead in the game.

Cohen scored 11 points in the first six minutes of the second half before Minnesota Crookston cooled off some. The Golden Eagles committed eight turnovers in the second despite slowing down their tempo — they had just five points in transition compared to 16 in the first period.

Redshirt sophomore guard Brian Sitzmann added 11 points for Minnesota Crookston, while junior Ben Juhl came off the bench to add eight on two three-pointers. Nicolau had seven points and four rebounds, while freshman Reed Miller and redshirt junior Chase Johnson tied for the team lead on the glass with five.

The Golden Eagles shot 29-of-56 from the field, 13-of-26 from 3-point range and 14-of-19 from the free throw line.

Minnesota Crookston’s starting lineup consisted of Cleary, Sitzmann, Cohen, Nicolau and junior forward Ibu Jassey Demba.

The Golden Eagles begin their regular season next Friday, Nov. 8 when they travel to take on the defending national champions, Northwest Missouri State.

Women easily handle Concordia, 93-50

Behind a torrid shooting night from Paige Weakley, the Minnesota Crookston women’s basketball team ran away from Division III Concordia, 93-50, in its exhibition, which followed the men’s game.

Weakley drilled all three of her first-half attempts from downtown before committing her second foul. The prolonged bench spell couldn’t cool the senior guard down, though, as she connected on three straight attempts right out of the gate in the second half.

Weakley finished with 18 points on a perfect 6-for-6 from three.

The Golden Eagles led 31-8 after the first quarter, 59-24 at halftime and 77-35 after three. For the game, they shot 55 percent from the floor, 44.8 percent from 3-point range and 93.3 from the free-throw line.

Minnesota Crookston went on an 11-0 run after the Cobbers scored the game’s first points, and followed that with an 18-0 run after Concordia’s next basket. After the first quarter, the Golden Eagles didn’t trail by less than 26.

Behind Weakley, Minnesota Crookston got balanced scoring from inside and outside the arc. Sophomore center Julia Peplinski scored 13, sophomore guard Kylea Praska had 11, freshman guard Emma Carpenter added 10 and sophomore center Bren Fox chipped in with nine.

Sophomore guard Kylie Post ran the offense to perfection with six assists to just two turnovers. Carpenter also had six assists, while Peplinski led the way with six boards. Fox, freshman guard Mattea Vetsch, sophomore guard Paige Cornale, and redshirt freshman forward Mary Burke all had four rebounds.

The Golden Eagles started Post, Weakley, Cornale, Fox and junior guard Abby Guidinger.

Minnesota Crookston will play a second exhibition game this Friday at North Dakota State before opening its season on Nov. 8 at Nebraska-Kearney.

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