The UMD Men’s basketball team improved to 5-4 overall and 2-1 in conference play over the weekend after wins on Friday and Saturday. The wins came against the University of Minnesota-Crookston on Friday night and Bemidji State University on Saturday Night. UMD won both games by double digits over the weekend, defeating the University of Minnesota, Crookston by a score of 66-50 on Friday night. On Saturday, UMD defeated Bemidji State University by a score of 79-66.
Team chemistry played a huge factor in the team’s success over the weekend, with the group playing a much more cohesive game than was visible in the first few weeks of the season.
Over the weekend, the Bulldogs shot an average of 53.1 percent from the field, 43.6 percent from the three-point line, and they only committed 17 turnovers.
Coach Bowen feels the team is improving when it comes to creating on-the-court chemistry, especially on the offensive end.
“At the beginning of the season we suffered from dry spells, but I didn’t see that much this weekend, which shows we’re getting used to playing with one another,” Bowen said.
Coach Bowen also stressed how continuity and flow helped the team’s offensive performance. The team’s offensive flow and chemistry helped senior captain Brett Ervin have a season-high 33 points against Bemidji State.
Ervin wasn’t the only Bulldog player who found success over the weekend. Junior guard Brendon Pineda shot 57 percent from the field over the weekend, while junior guard Pierre Newton grabbed a total of 15 rebounds in the combined two games.
“We played more consistent in these road wins than we have in the past,” Bowen said.
Playing at a consistent level is a major focus of the team as they move into conference play against the top tier teams in the conference.
Competing with the powerhouses of the NSIC is exactly what Coach Bowen and the Bulldogs hope to do this season, but Bowen knows there’s still work to be done.
“We have only scratched the surface,” Bowen said. “We have to continue to improve everyday in practice and during every game so we can get better to compete in the top half of the conference.”
The bulldogs feel they can build on a successful start to conference play. Players expressed how all the work they did in the off-season keeps them motivated to compete with the conference best and complete their goals as a team.
“Over the summer, we worked hard to get to a point to compete and set ourselves up for a chance to not only be relevant in the conference, but win the conference,” Ervin said. “That’s what motivates us.”
The team will have a couple of chances this week to show off their hard work in front of their home crowd against the upper echelon of the NSIC. The Bulldogs take on Northern State University (8-1) Friday, and Minnesota State Moorhead (10-0) on Saturday.
BY ROD BLOCKER Statesman Correspondent