Minnesota Crookston falls to 10-7 (4-5 NSIC).
ABERDEEN, S.D. – Northern State University closed the game out on a 5-1 run to squeak by the University of Minnesota Crookston men’s basketball 72-70 at Wachs Arena in Aberdeen, S.D. Sat., Jan. 12. The Golden Eagles led 69-67 with 1:07 remaining over the Wolves. Ian Smith hit a free throw, and Bo Fries came away with three crucial points to lead Northern State to the win down the stretch.
Minnesota Crookston was the closest they have been in recent times to picking up a win at Wachs Arena. The Golden Eagles have never won in Aberdeen, S.D., during the NCAA Division II era. Minnesota Crookston falls to 10-7 (4-5 NSIC). They remain one win shy of setting a new school-record for wins. They are currently tied with the 2017-18 team for the school-mark. Northern State improves to 12-3 (8-1 NSIC) as they continue to hold the top spot in the NSIC North. The Golden Eagles are in a three-way tie for fourth place in the NSIC North with University of Minnesota Duluth, and University of Mary.
Harrison Cleary (Jr., G, Oak Creek, Wis.) led the team with 25 points. Cleary was 8-of-22 from the field, and 8-of-8 from the charity stripe. Cleary had four assists on the night. He moved to 11th all-time in points in the NSIC, surpassing Ryan Rasmussen of University of Minnesota Duluth, and Terez Van Pelt of Concordia University-St. Paul. Cleary needs 30 points to surpass Brett Ervin of Minnesota Duluth, and break into the Top 10 all-time in scoring in the conference. In addition, Cleary needs just 190 points to surpass Joe Hasz for the 16-year scoring record he has held at Minnesota Crookston.
Ben Juhl (So., G, Clive, Iowa) added 13 points on 4-of-9 from the field, and 2-of-2 from beyond the arc. Josh Collins (Sr., F, Minneapolis, Minn.) chipped in 11 points, and seven rebounds. Malcolm Cohen (Jr., G/F, Detroit, Mich.) added 10 points.
The Golden Eagles shot 24-of-60 from the field for 40.2 percent. Minnesota Crookston went 6-of-15 from beyond the arc for 40.0 percent. The Golden Eagles finished 16-of-22 from the foul line for 72.3 percent.
Fries ignited Northern State with 18 points and seven rebounds. Justin Decker added 14 points. Parker Fox finished with a double-double of 11 points and 10 boards. Gabe King added 11 points and seven boards, while Ian Smith notched 10 points and seven rebounds.
The Wolves were 23-of-52 from the field for 44.2 percent. Northern State went 7-of-15 from behind the three-point line for 46.7 percent. The Wolves were 19-of-31 for 61.3 percent from the stripe. Northern State out-rebounded Minnesota Crookston 43-35.
The Golden Eagles opened the game with a Chase Knickerbocker three-pointer to get out to a 3-0 lead. Decker countered with a three to knot the game up 3-3. Northern State moved out to an 8-5 advantage following a Fries three-pointer. Minnesota Crookston utilized buckets by Collins and Cohen to take over the lead 9-8.
The Wolves went on a 7-0 run as they moved into a 15-8 lead on a Smith jumper. Northern State continued to hold the advantage 18-12 following a Cole Dahl triple. Cleary utilized an old-fashioned three-point play to pull within 18-15 with 11:51 remaining in the first half.
Northern State held off Minnesota Crookston with an 11-0 run culminating with a King three-pointer. The Golden Eagles countered with a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to 26-20 on a pair of Cleary free throws. Northern State widened the gap to 31-20 after a Fox jumper with 4:53 remaining in the half.
The Golden Eagles responded with a 7-0 run as they cut the lead to 31-27 on a pair of Cleary free throws. A Mason Stark free throw widened the lead out to 32-27. A pair of Chase Johnson (R-So., F/C, La Crosse, Wis.) free throws sliced the deficit to 32-29. However, Decker responded with a basket to extend the lead to 34-29. The Wolves would go into the break with the 34-29 lead.
Northern State opened the half with a Smith basket to extend the lead to 36-29. A Collins jumper and a Juhl triple cut the deficit to 36-34 with 18:10 remaining in the game. Decker countered for the Wolves with a pair of free throws to move the lead to 38-34. Juhl came right back with a rare four-point play to knot the game up 38-38.
The Wolves took the lead back 42-38 ignited by a King triple. Minnesota Crookston came right back with a 9-0 run as they overtook Northern State 47-42 following a Cohen jumper with 13:07 left in the game. The Wolves pulled back within 49-47 with a Decker dunk with 11:23 remaining in the tilt. Minnesota Crookston then utilized five-straight point from Cleary to widen the lead to 54-47. The Golden Eagles would hold a 57-49 lead after a Collins free throw with 9:50 left in the game.
Northern State made a charge as they sliced the deficit down to 60-58 with two free throws from Fries. Minnesota Crookston used a Cleary jumper to extend their advantage out to 64-60 with 6:31 remaining in the game. Northern State would pull within 67-66 as Fries nailed a trey. A Decker free throw for the Wolves would knot the game up 67-67.
Minnesota Crookston would take the lead back 69-67 following a pair of Cleary free throws. The two points would be the only two points for over two minutes for either team.
After a Javier Nicolau (Jr., F/C, Castellon, Spain) foul, Smith would go to the line where he hit 2-of-2 to tie the game up 69-69 with 1:09 left in the game. Fries would put Northern State ahead 71-69 with 20 seconds remaining. Fries would complete an old-fashioned three-point play to widen the lead out to 72-69.
The Golden Eagles would have several opportunities down the stretch, keeping their hopes alive with offensive rebounds. Juhl pulled Minnesota Crookston with 72-70 with two seconds remaining. Northern State would ice the win as Fox picked up the rebound on a Juhl missed free throw.
Minnesota Crookston returns to action Sat., Jan. 12 at 3:30 p.m. against Minnesota State University Moorhead at Nemzek Fieldhouse in Moorhead, Minn.