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Huskies race past UMC in second half, Golden Eagles lose 78-59

Jacob Shames
Crookston Times
Zach Westphal and the Minnesota Crookston men's basketball team fell 78-59 to St. Cloud State Saturday afternoon.

All season long, the Minnesota Crookston men's basketball team has struggled to put two solid halves together. Saturday, that inconsistency cost them again.

St. Cloud State began the second half on a 17-4 run, taking the lead for good and spoiling the Golden Eagles' final home game of the season. UMC fell 78-59, its fifth consecutive loss, after leading 38-33 at halftime.

Saturday was almost the inverse of Friday's game between the Golden Eagles (2-12 overall, 1-11 NSIC) and Huskies. St. Cloud State led 47-24 at halftime, but UMC nearly came all the way back, scoring 17 unanswered points in the final six minutes before falling 74-70.

Despite the furious charge, the Golden Eagles couldn't overcome St. Cloud State's first half, in which it asserted control early according to coach Dan Weisse. So before the second game, Weisse challenged his team to flip the script by denying the Huskies the inside looks which they used to establish dominance.

That's exactly what UMC did. But just as importantly, its offense got going too.

The Golden Eagles led for nearly 90 percent of the first half. They shot 58 percent from the floor, knocked down six 3-pointers and out-rebounded St. Cloud State. Josh Dilling (Fr., G), who scored 16 points in the first half, caught fire late, nailing two straight 3-pointers to give UMC momentum going into the break.

"Our guys did a great job," Weisse said in summing up the first half. "There were no easy post touches. Guys were flying around, we were talking offensively, the ball was moving."

But the Huskies (7-7, 5-5) came out torrid in the second half. They hit seven of their first eight shots out of halftime, all of them coming around the rim, and took a 50-42 lead on a 3-pointer by Matthew Willert. This shift in momentum took just four minutes.

"They started the second half, they got the ball in the post any time they wanted," Weisse said. "I don't know what changed ... other than our energy, our focus. I think we lacked focus."

Georges Darwiche (Jr., G) brought a bit of reprieve by hitting a 3-pointer to stop the first Husky run. But St. Cloud State began anew with a 27-6 run, taking a 77-51 lead with 3:37 to play. Both teams emptied their benches shortly after.

Caleb Donaldson had 25 points and Josh Tomasi had 16 for St. Cloud State, which got many of its points inside. The Huskies outscored UMC in the paint, 44-28. The Golden Eagles couldn't stick with SCSU on the offensive end, either, as they shot just 27 percent from the field in the second half and went 2-for-14 from 3-point distance.

Dilling, their leading scorer, had just two points after halftime, and with guards Brian Sitzmann, Ethan Channel and Tyrese Shines all sitting out due to injuries, UMC's offense lacked a perimeter playmaking punch. An injury to Ibu Jassey Demba (Sr., F), who finished with 15 points, hurt the Golden Eagles as well.

"(St. Cloud State) turned a little pressure up, they started denying some wings," Weisse said. "We got a couple of our better playmakers not in the game, that does hurt us a little bit because they want to switch everything. We don't quite have a post guy that establishes a post presence, so if they want to switch on a big, they can have a smaller guy guard the post and we don't take advantage of it."

Ibu Jassey Demba looks to pass.

Weisse isn't sure why his team has struggled to play complete games this season. But before the Golden Eagles' next game, Friday at Bemidji State, he'll pose the same challenge to his team that he did today.

"We're gonna preach not letting them get a post touch that first possession of the game and establish that inside dominance, as a lot of teams have done to us this year," Weisse said. 

He'll then hope that they rise to the challenge for two halves, not just one.

UP NEXT: The Golden Eagles are on the road for the final two games of the season, taking on Bemidji State Feb. 19-20. The Beavers are 5-9, 4-8 in conference play, and need to sweep UMC to have a chance to finish in the top half of the NSIC North and make the conference tournament.

Josh Dilling shoots over St. Cloud State's Caleb Donaldson.

BOX SCORE

Minnesota Crookston 38-21—59

St. Cloud State 33-45—78

MINNESOTA CROOKSTON STATS

  • Points: Josh Dilling 18, Ibu Jassey Demba 15, Morgan Carter 8, Georges Darwiche 5
  • Rebounds: Leonard Dixon 7, Ibu Jassey Demba 4, Morgan Carter 4
  • Assists: Ibu Jassey Demba 4, Georges Darwiche 3
  • Steals: several with 1
  • Blocks: Hunter Lyman 1, Ibu Jassey Demba 1, Quintin Winterfeldt 1
  • Team: 24-59 field goals, 8-28 3-pointers, 3-5 free throws

ST. CLOUD STATE STATS

  • Points: Caleb Donaldson 25, Anthony Roberts 16, Josh Tomasi 16, Ryan Bagley 11
  • Rebounds: Ryan Bagley 7, Josh Tomasi 7
  • Assists: Ryan Bagley 4, Anthony Roberts 3, Caleb Donaldson 3
  • Steals: Anthony Roberts 3, Caleb Donaldson 3
  • Blocks: Matthew Willert 2
  • Team: 32-61 field goals, 8-19 3-pointers, 6-12 free throws

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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