Southwest Minnesota State 77, Minnesota Crookston 63
Friday night was a memorable night for those in attendance at Lysaker Gymnasium, as Minnesota Crookston's Harrison Cleary (Sr., G) became the NSIC's all-time leading scorer.
It would have been more memorable for the Golden Eagles, though, if it resulted in a win.
Southwest Minnesota State shot a scorching 58 percent from the field to pull away in the second half and spoil Cleary and Minnesota Crookston's celebration, winning 77-63 at Lysaker Gymnasium.
The Golden Eagles fell to 9-12 overall (5-10 NSIC) while the Mustangs improved to 7-14 (4-11).
After UMC got out to a 15-8 lead and SMSU made a mini 6-0 run, the first half was close. Neither team led by more than a possession until the final minutes.
That was when Cleary took over. With the Golden Eagles down 33-29, he got to the free throw line and knocked down both shots, and nailed two 3-pointers in the last minute, including a deep three right before the horn to put them up 39-34 going into the locker room.
But as the second half started, Minnesota Crookston suddenly couldn't hold onto the ball. It coughed it up 12 times total in the half (19 for the game) and shot 8-for-23 from the field, as the Mustangs won the second half 43-24.
Much of that margin came on a 21-0 run in the first part of the half, in which SMSU turned a six-point deficit into a 57-42 lead with 10 minutes remaining. The Golden Eagles didn't come within 14 again.
Cleary got to the line with 55 seconds to go, where he knocked down a free throw to break the NSIC's all-time scoring record of 1,933 points, set by Gage Davis of St. Cloud State just last season. He left the game moments later to a standing ovation.
Cleary scored 29 points on 9-of-21 shooting, including four 3-pointers. Ibu Jassey Demba (Jr., F) scored nine points on three 3-pointers, while Malcolm Cohen (R-Sr., F) and Brian Sitzmann (R-So., G) had eight apiece.
Kenny Byers outshone Cleary for much of the night, as the Mustang point guard scored 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting. Nick Dufalt and Jake Phipps bolstered SMSU with 10 points each.
Sioux Falls 77, Minnesota Crookston 62
Minnesota Crookston's losing streak grew to three games on Saturday evening, as Sioux Falls walked into Lysaker Gymnasium and left with a 77-62 victory.
The Golden Eagles fell to 9-13 overall (5-11 NSIC), while the Cougars, tops in the NSIC South, ran their record to 17-5 (13-3).
Sioux Falls blew open a back-and-forth first half with a 16-2 run, turning a 23-19 deficit into a 35-27 halftime lead.
UMC made it a game out of halftime, scoring the first five points of the second, but the Cougars answered by running off the next 11 points.
A series of 3-pointers and layups drew the Golden Eagles within 62-57 with eight minutes to play, but that preceded a three-minute scoring drought from both teams. Sioux Falls ended it with a jumper with 4:55 to play, which kick-started an 11-5 run to close out the game. UMC came no closer than 10 during that span.
Harrison Cleary (Sr., G) scored 22 points and had six assists for the Golden Eagles. Malcolm Cohen (R-Sr., F) knocked down four 3-pointers to add 12 points and Brian Sitzmann (R-So., G) chipped in with nine.
The Cougars' balanced offense saw five players in double-digits scoring, led by Jack Thompson with 23 and Chase Grinde with 13.
Sioux Falls shot 52 percent from the field and outrebounded Minnesota Crookston by a whopping 40-22. The Golden Eagles shot just 41 percent from the floor and 27 percent from deep.
UP NEXT: Minnesota Crookston is on the road next weekend. It will take on Minnesota State-Mankato (11-11 overall, 9-7 NSIC) on Friday, and Concordia-St. Paul (6-14, 4-12) on Saturday.
The Golden Eagles and Golden Bears have actually faced each other previously this season. UMC won 78-76 during the Parkside Invitational in Parkside, Wisc. on Nov. 15.
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