One final run helped Minnesota-Duluth pick up its first Northern Sun victory.
A couple of mistakes and a couple of second chances for the Bulldogs kept the University of Mary from getting that elusive first conference win.
The Bulldogs closed the game on a 10-5 burst and held on for a 63-58 victory over the Marauders on Saturday at the McDowell Activity Center.
“At the end of the game, offensive rebounds and a few turnovers could have swayed it either way,” Marauders coach Joe Kittell said. “It’s the difference between coming out of here with a win and not.”
“The big thing was, they didn’t have an offensive rebound in the first half and they finished the game with eight. And we had six more turnovers in the second half. In such a short game – 63-58 – and in a game where neither team is shooting real well, the turnovers and offensive rebounds come up big,” Kittell said.
Back-to-back baskets by Matthew Kreklow and a reverse layup by Trevor Zacher gave U-Mary a 46-41 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining.
The Bulldogs battled back, reeling off 10 straight points to go ahead 51-46 with 6:37 left.
U-Mary answered with a 7-2 burst, tying the game at 53-53 with 5:43 remaining.
In a game of runs, Duluth took command with an 8-0 spurt, building a 61-53 lead with 2:30 remaining. Still, the Marauders battled back – a pair of Connor Hellebust free throws with 1:24 left made it a one-possession game.
Keith Hunter’s 3-point attempt to tie it up was just off the mark with 2 seconds left, and Brandon Myer sealed the win with a pair of free throws for UMD (4-7, 1-5 NSIC).
“There’s a lot of things we need to learn from – we missed a big front end there at the end … we had some chances with some free throws. I’m totally OK with Keith’s shot there at the end – I’m not going to call a timeout, he got a good look. He’s a good shooter, he got a good rhythm look, he just missed it.
“We just couldn’t get that one long offensive rebound. We were close.”
Myer finished with a game-high 20 points and seven rebounds to lead UMD. Trevor Entwisle added 11 and Logan Rohrscheib nine for the Bulldogs.
“Our effort was good, we finally held a team to some percentages that look decent – 41 (on field goals) and 29 (from 3-point range),” Kittell said. “It just comes down to finishing possessions with offensive rebounds and just one, two too many turnovers down the stretch.”
The Bulldogs got a few more opportunities, and took advantage.
“When you give teams so many chances … they got seven more shot attempts than we did in the second half. That comes from turnovers and offensive rebounds,” Kittell said. “We gave them seven more opportunities to score, and we have to be a phenomenal defensive team to make up for that.”
Hunter led U-Mary (2-9, 0-7 NSIC) with 17 points and eight rebounds. Trevor Zacher added 11 points and eight rebounds and Kreklow had 12 despite early foul trouble.
“Our defense was pretty solid all game,” Kittell said. “Matt getting into foul trouble in the first half hurt us.
“We didn’t get a lot of stops early. They were shooting a pretty high percentage right out of the gates. We settled into the game a little bit and started to guard, started to really contest shots.”
Kittell was happy with his team’s effort despite the loss.
“We’ll learn how to win,” Kittell said. “It’s a process. These guys, they want it and now it’s just a matter of figuring out how to execute down the stretch.”
The Marauders host St. Cloud State today at 4 p.m.