MORRIS - The Martin Luther College women's basketball team lost to the University of Minnesota, Morris on Saturday by the score of 71-53 in its final game of the regular season.
MLC had a quick start, taking an early 10-2 lead before the Cougars were able to make a run to close the half and take a 29-24 lead into the break.
Morris pushed the lead into double figures early in the second half as it started the second stanza on a 6-0 run, but a Sara Willems lay-up cut the MLC deficit down to five with 12:40 to play in the game.
The Cougars took control from there, running off 10 consecutive points over the next 3:45 of game action to build their biggest lead of the game at 54-39 with just less than nine minutes left to play. The Knights weren't able to cut the deficit back into single digits the rest of the way as the Cougars finished with the win.
Turnovers were a big factor in the game, with the Cougars forcing 18 MLC turnovers that led to 18 UMM points (15 of the fast break variety). Morris finished with just eight turnovers in the game, allowing the Cougars to finish with an 18-4 edge in points off turnovers and a 15-2 advantage in fast break points.
Brittney Gossen finished as the high scorer for MLC with 14 points, while Hannah Hackbarth added 12 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
MLC finished the regular season 11-14 overall and 9-5 in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference, good for third place in the final conference standings. UMM improved to 18-7 on the season and 14-0 in league play with the win.
The Knights will now aim to defend their UMAC Conference Tournament Championship from last season, with the semi-final round starting on Wednesday. MLC will travel to second-seeded Northwestern for that game, with the tip-off scheduled for 5:30 p.m.