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Turnovers plague Golden Eagles in 91-68 loss to MSU Moorhead

Jacob Shames
Crookston Times
Leonard Dixon throws a pass to Brian Sitzmann during Minnesota Crookston's 91-68 loss to Minnesota State Moorhead Friday night at Lysaker Gymnasium.

Dan Weisse knew his team's performance Sunday wasn't perfect.

While Minnesota Crookston men's basketball outlasted Concordia-St. Paul in overtime, 84-80, it had 18 turnovers — Weisse wants his team to aim for 10 or less. While the Golden Eagles won in spite of their ball-security issues, their coach stressed to them all week: they needed to improve, and fast.

They weren't able to Friday night — and this time, it cost them a win.

UMC coughed the ball up 22 times, 11 in each half, in a 91-68 loss to Minnesota State Moorhead at Lysaker Gymnasium. 

"I've never seen a team shoot 52 percent and lose by 23 points," Weisse said. "This is the first time that's happened to me."

The Golden Eagles (1-2, 0-1 NSIC), as Weisse noted, knocked down 51.8 percent of their shots, just a hair ahead of the Dragons' 51.6 percent clip. But their turnovers rendered it meaningless.

If not for that, they would likely have been talking about Friday night as their best game — and the first half, in particular, as their best half — of the season. UMC held MSUM (1-2, 1-0) to 39 percent first-half shooting and went 16-for-29 from the floor, running a balanced offense that generated open looks by swinging the ball from side to side.

Nine different Golden Eagles scored during the first 20 minutes, led by junior forward Leonard Dixon's nine points.

"We were just moving the ball," Dixon said. "Everybody was getting in a rhythm and had great opportunities to find a way to score."

The warning signs were there, though, in the Dragons' 14 points off turnovers (they finished with 27), six offensive rebounds and 11 free-throw attempts to UMC's two. That enabled them to take a 39-37 lead into the break, and once they kicked their offense into gear, the Golden Eagles had no response.

MSUM scored 18 points in the first five minutes of the second half, and already, Minnesota Crookston was hanging on by a thread down 57-46. The Golden Eagles rallied to come within 62-56 with 10 minutes remaining on a runner by junior guard Ethan Channel, but an 18-4 Dragon run promptly afterwards put the nail in the coffin.

The Dragons feasted on offense in the second half, shooting 69 percent from the floor behind a slew of fast breaks and open 3-pointers, which, in Weisse's eyes, resulted almost directly from the Golden Eagles' giveaways.

"In the second half, we compounded the turnovers and then compounded on the defensive end," Weisse said.

Ibu Jassey Demba drives on MSUM's Dane Zimmer. Jassey Demba scored nine points in the game.

While Weisse thought his team was solid on defense when it got back in time and was able to contest MSUM's shots, the second half put all of the Golden Eagles' mistakes on display. Weisse noticed how this team went under too many ball screens, allowing MSUM open shots from outside. Dixon thought the Golden Eagles struggled to front the post.

The Dragons took advantage of both deficiencies. Shooting guard Jacob Beeninga scored 22 points, including three 3-pointers, and big man Dane Zimmer scored 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting.

Minnesota Crookston didn't do itself any favors on the offensive end, of course. 

"We just gotta do a better job of picking our spots, being under control, making the right reads," Weisse said. "We have a lot of new guys, and sometimes they don't quite understand the length in this league and the strength in this league."

While the Golden Eagles do have 12 new players on their roster — including junior guard Georges Darwiche, who led the team with 15 points, and Channel, who had a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double — Weisse was careful not to "give them that out" of inexperience. He would just like to see them get better.

"We're sharing the ball, we're moving the ball, and defensively, in the first half we were pretty good," Weisse said. "Turnovers ended up getting to us, and that was the game."

UP NEXT: The Golden Eagles and the Dragons play again at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Morgan Carter eyes a rebound off a free-throw attempt against MSUM's Gathdoar Kueth.

BOX SCORE

Minnesota Crookston 37-31—68

Minnesota State Moorhead 39-52—91

MINNESOTA CROOKSTON STATS

  • Points: Georges Darwiche 15, Ethan Channel 14, Ibu Jassey Demba 9, Leonard Dixon 9
  • Rebounds: Ethan Channel 10, Ibu Jassey Demba 6, Josh Dilling 3, Morgan Carter 3
  • Assists: Josh Dilling 4
  • Steals: Leonard Dixon 3

MINNESOTA STATE MOORHEAD STATS

  • Points: Jacob Beeninga 22, Dane Zimmer 21, Gatdoar Kueth 17
  • Rebounds: Gatdoar Kueth 5
  • Assists: Bryce Irsfeld 4, Siman Sem 4
  • Steals: Lorenzo McGhee 4
  • Blocks: Dane Zimmer 2

The Times welcomes your feedback. You can send any comments or questions to our office at (218) 281-2730 or sports editor Jacob Shames at jshames@crookstontimes.com.

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