The UMD men’s basketball team split the weekend on their home court and they now sit at 12-12 with a 9-9 record against Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference teams. On Friday night the Bulldogs lost to Upper Iowa 64-68 but Saturday they took down Winona State 76-63. Extraordinary shooting percentages and clutch performances in both games determined the victors over the weekend. However, it is consistency that the Bulldogs have been yearning for that they still have yet to achieve.
On Friday night against Upper Iowa, the Bulldogs couldn’t defend the Peacocks’ shooting from the three-point line. Upper Iowa went 11 for 22 from the three-point line and shot 44.8 percent overall, while the Bulldogs shot only 2 for 12 from the three-point line. Brendon Pineda was the most effective from that position, where he went 5 for 12 from the field and grabbed nine boards.
UMD guard Reece Zoelle has some insight into why the Bulldogs lost.
“Our job as players is to execute the game plan,” Zoelle said. “We felt we executed (our) game plan pretty well. We were prepared for our opponent’s game style. We just shot too poorly to win against Upper Iowa.”
Per their season pattern, the Bulldogs replaced their step back with a step forward on Saturday night against Winona State. The Bulldogs reversed their shooting percentages from the three-point line, where they shot 11 for 22 compared to Winona State’s 2 for 13.
UMD held a firm lead throughout the game until the middle of the second half, where they went on a 15-possession scoring drought that pulled Winona State to within three with just five minutes left in the game. The momentum of the game had shifted to Winona State in crunch time.
However, Zoelle hit two three-point shots in the last three minutes of the game to seal the Bulldog victory. Zoelle led the Bulldogs in scoring with 19 points in 33 minutes of play. Pierre Newton finished with 18 points of his own on an effective 6 for 8 shooting while hauling in five boards.
Coach Matt Bowen acknowledged the pattern that has plagued the Bulldogs all year after the game on Saturday.
“We’re one step forward and one step back,” he said. “Hopefully we can keep this winning thing going so we can get two or three steps forward. It was a good team win.”
The Bulldogs take on their final road trip of the year next weekend, facing Moorhead State on Friday at 8 p.m., and then taking on Northern State on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Coach Bowen is looking at the upcoming road trip as a challenge that the Bulldogs will rise to and face.
“It’s going to be a challenge for us,” Bowen said, “but they are two teams that we match up with and know pretty well, and I know that our guys will be up to it. We’ve been up to challenges all year. So it will be the next week in a very difficult season that has been filled with ups and downs, and we’ll take them as they come.”
BY WILLIAN E. CASSERLY