SIOUX FALLS – The University of Sioux Falls Men's Basketball Team (4-2), which had a career-high 16 points from senior forward Devin Green, dropped a 94-69 nonconference decision to Minnesota Crookston (5-2) as the Cougars struggled with turnovers and shooting particularly in the early going of the matchup at the Stewart Center.
USF, which is now 51-5 in nonconference games under the direction of Chris Johnson, fell behind 54-27 at halftime. The Golden Eagles, which was led by All-NSIC guard Harrison Cleary with 40 points, hit 56.7 percent in the opening half in building the lead. In the second half, Cleary added 16 more but USF had a 42-40 advantage as they started finding a good offensive flow. The Cougars, which had a three-game winning streak snapped, lost for just the three time in 11 decisions to UMC.
The Cougars, which open the NSIC season at home against travel partner Southwest Minnesota State at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 30, received a career-high 16 points from Devin Green, who was 5-of-9 from the floor and made his only three. He also hit 5-of-8 free throws and had seven rebounds with three assists in 22 minutes on the floor. Jaxon Simons had his career-high at USF of 11 points as he had 3-of-6 conversions from three-point range. Also for USF, Austin Slater had eight points and three rebounds while Logan Dreier had a career-best nine points with a personal-best 3-of-6 from three-point range.
The Cougars, which was only outscored, 26-22 in the paint, hit 22-of-55 shots for 40 percent and made a season-high 9-of-22 from three-point range for a season-best 40.9 percent. In addition, USF had a solid effort at the line with 16 conversions in 22 attempts. The Cougars, which owned the rebound margin for a sixth straight game, grabbed 35 rebounds which included 16 off the offensive glass. UMC, which used a 23-0 scoring run in the opening half to create separation from USF, had 27 rebounds but committed only 12 turnovers. They had a 27-to-14 margin in points off turnovers.
"We struggled early but give Minnesota Crookston credit. They came out fast and Harrison Cleary was really good," said Johnson. "After those early struggles, I thought we battled the rest of the way and had some positives, including hitting some shots from the perimeter. We just can't turn the ball over 23 times," he said.
Game Recap -
In the opening half, USF had 17 of their 23 turnovers for the game and hit just 9-of-23 shots from the floor for 39.1 percent as UMC was able to open up a double digit lead. The Cougars made 3-of-9 from three-point range and hit 6-of-8 from the foul line. USF had a 17-11 advantage on the boards but the turnovers and UMC's hot shooting was the different. Cleary had 24 points in the half while Malcolm Cohen had 12 for the game.
With 15:35 to play in the first half, Green converted a free throw after a three-point play on the previous possession as Cougars trailed 9-4. After a three from Milan Sulic, USF trailed UMC, 11-7 at the 14-minute mark. With 12:09 to play, UMC had a 16-7 lead and the Cougars had committed nine turnovers. After a foul and three free throws from Cleary, UMC took a 19-7 lead. Another Cleary three-point play helped the Golden Eagles extend their lead to 22-7 with 11 unanswered points.
As the lead drew to 34-7 on a three by Cohen, UMC extend their run to 23 straight points. The run ended when Slater scored inside at the 7:06 mark. Trevon Adams hits a three at the 6:43 mark as USF trailed 34-12. Later a three by Cleary at the 1:18 mark gave him 24 in the half and UMC a 51-23 lead. At the half, the Cougars trailed, 54-27.
In the second half, USF was 13-of-32 for 40.6 percent as they had the 42-40 advantage over UMC. The Cougars made 6-of-13 from three-point distance and 10-of-14 free throws. Meanwhile, UMC cooled off and made 11-of-24 from the field for 45.8 percent. They were 4-of-11 from three-point range and 14-of-19 at the foul line.
After Dreier connected from deep USF cut UMC's lead to 72-46 at the 11:07 mark. However, USF was unable to cut the lead under 20 points as Cleary and Brian Sitzmann, who had 20 points and made 4-of-6 from three-point range, continued to make plays at the offensive end. The Cougars cut the lead to 24 on another Dreier three with 17 seconds to play.