Dan Weisse wrote something new on the whiteboard on Saturday. Effort, Attitude, Together: "EAT". He doesn't remember where he first came across it, whether it was a YouTube video or another coach on Twitter, but it resonated with him.
It clearly had the same effect on his entire team.
Harrison Cleary (Sr., G) scored 33 points, Tyrese Shines (Fr., G) added 21 off the bench and Minnesota Crookston men's basketball rolled to a 94-61 win over Minnesota State Moorhead in an NSIC game on Saturday at Lysaker Gymnasium.
The Golden Eagles (8-8, 4-6 NSIC) bounced back from a 97-60 trouncing at the hands of Northern State on Friday night to get their record back to .500, while the Dragons fell to 9-7 and 5-5 respectively.
"Playing back-to-backs leaves you with no time to dwell on what happened," Cleary said. "Leaves you with no choice but to put it behind you."
The win also snapped a four-game losing streak for UMC.
"I thought our guys responded with professionalism," Weisse said. "They were ready to go. They understand it's been a rough few weeks for us, but they responded on both ends of the floor. I'm proud of our guys, we gotta get back to feeling like this."
UMC never trailed, scoring the first five points and taking a 17-6 lead after six minutes, which it extended to 33-17 midway through the first half. MSUM clawed back into the game to make it 45-32 at halftime, however.
The Dragons tried to make it a game coming out of halftime, but got no closer than nine points. After a Bryce Irsfeld 3-pointer with nine minutes to play to cut the lead to 15, the Golden Eagles went on a 26-6 run, sparked by Shines' hot shooting from outside.
Weisse called Saturday's performance UMC's most complete showing since a 94-69 win at Sioux Falls on Nov. 26.
"We were flying around on both ends of the floor," Weisse said. " ... When they made a couple shots in a row, we were able to not let them get too comfortable and we didn't let them get any momentum. I thought today we didn't fall in love with the 3-point line. We were attacking the rim."
Minnesota State Moorhead was led by Irsfeld, who scored 15 points. Gavin Baumgartner, who had 32 points the last time these two teams met on Dec. 6 (a 68-65 UMC win) was held to three points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Cleary, who's second in Division II in scoring, bounced back from a 2-of-18 night from the field to hit nine of his 21 shots, while also knocking down 12 of his 14 free throws.
"I don't switch too many things up," Cleary said. "I think I'm the best player in the country. Tonight I was trying to get to the rim a little more, get some foul calls, but at the end of the day I just play my game."
Shines set a career high in scoring for the second straight night and pulled down eight rebounds as well.
"He arrived today," Weisse said. "His expectations have risen."
Minnesota Crookston shot 47.8 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from beyond the arc, while holding MSUM to 35.6 and 17.6 percent, respectively. It also outrebounded the Dragons 46-35.
But what most stood out to Weisse wasn't Shines' breakout game, Cleary doing what he does best or any of the aforementioned gaudy statistics.
It was the attitude his team played with — one he hadn't seen during the Golden Eagles' losing streak, one that he had tried to draw out with the "EAT" mantra.
After Friday's 37-point loss, Weisse bemoaned how Northern State constantly cheered each other on, picked each other up and brought the energy throughout, while his team folded. There were no signs of that on Saturday.
"A guy came out of the game and cheered his teammate, then he went back in the game and that guy cheered him on," Weisse said. "We got back to being a close team today."
UP NEXT: The Golden Eagles are on the road to play Winona State on Friday, Jan. 17. The Warriors are 8-8 on the season and 5-5 in the NSIC.
Winona State ended Minnesota Crookston's season last year with an 80-67 win in the quarterfinals of the NSIC Tournament.
The Times welcomes your feedback. You can send any comments or questions to our office at (218) 281-2730, Jacob Shames (405) 496-0168 or by email at email@example.com.
Follow along on Twitter @CroxTimesSports and @Jacob_Shames for all the latest stories and live game updates.