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It was a strangely similar doubleheader of college basketball at Romano Gym last Saturday, as the UMD Bulldogs won the women’s game quite handily, but lost the men’s game in one of the more bizarre cases of questionable officiating against Northern Sun rival Southwest Minnesota State.
The UMD women’s basketball team was picked to win the NSIC this season, and the Bulldogs appear to have the talent to pull it off. Not that it started out that way Saturday in the first game of the doubleheader.
Incidentally, those Northern Sun doubleheaders are a neat idea, and the UMAC does the same thing, so basketball fans can see two games for the price of one, or they can watch part of one and all of the other. In any case, it can generate interest.
But against the Mustangs, Saturday looked like a tall order. Southwest Minnesota ran off to a 9-0 start, and 18-8 after one quarter. But the Bulldogs came right back and outscored Southwest 15-2 in the second half to trade the early deficit for a 23-20 halftime lead.
UMD ran off with a 22-8 third quarter to take command, and went on to win 60-39.
Sarah Grow continued her leadership role, scoring 20 points to lead both teams while Ann Simonet added 14 for strong support. Grow was 10-17 and Simonet 6-8 shooting, and that 16-25 left a gap for the rest of the squad, which totaled 10-35. For the game, UMD hit 43.3 percent, which was not bad after that 26.7 percent first quarter.
Word was, UMD’s defense stifled Southwest Minnesota State, but I’m not so sure. The Bulldogs were tough, but Southwest hit 43.8 percent in the first quarter before faltering thereafter for a game total of 26.3 percent.
The victory was sweet after a tough home opener Friday night. “We were ragged last night, and we started out playing their game tonight,” said Grow, after the Saturday game. “Finally, after we got behind 18-8, I think we got it together.”
If that was an interesting turnaround from a 9-0 early deficit, the men figured they’d try to match it, apparently. Southwest Minnesota State jumped to an early 11-2 lead as the Bulldogs couldn’t seem to stop the Mustangs, and couldn’t generate any offense at the other end of the court.
Except, that is, for Brandon Myer, who is now in his third season of proving to be the best Twin Ports-raised player at UMD since Roger Hanson, the former Duluth Central star on the undefeated 1961 state champions who had a brilliant four years at UMD. Myer, from Superior, is quick, lanky and can shoot from long range but is at his best on driving, twisting plays in traffic.
On Saturday, Myer and Logan Rohrscheib were all the Bulldogs had going in the first half, while Ryan Bruggeman was making virtually everything he shot for Southwest. With Myer and Rohrscheib connecting, UMD outscored the Mustangs 10-2 to close the gap to 13-12, but the Mustangs scored nine straight when Myer went to the bench for a rest.
The game stood 24-16 later in the first half, and of the 16, Myer had 10 and Rohrscheib 6, with the rest of the team totaling...none. At halftime, Myer had 14, Rohrscheib 9 and Sean Burns 6 to account for all 29 points UMD had, to Southwest’s 40. Bruggeman had 16 of Southwest’s 40.
The second half was amazing, as UMD rallied to catch up with an 11-2 opening surge, and when Myere scored underneath for a 44-42 UMD lead, Hunter Plamann drive made it 46-42, and when Myer scored with a pull-up jumper in traffic, UMD had a 48-44 lead and Myer had 22 of the points.
But as sudden as UMD’s surge was, it dissipated right then. The Bulldogs led 48-44, and then relinquished 17 consecutive points to fall behind 61-48.
With 3:45 remaining, UMD trailed 61-52 but was still in the game. Rohrsheib caught a pass near the right sideline and dribbled hard to the lane, where there was some contact, and it appeared he might have been fouled from behind. But after scrutiinizing the video, the officials said that what they had called as a foul on both teams was actually a flagrant foul on Rohrscheib.
After the free throws, the officials awarded the ball to Souothest Minnesota State. UMD coach Justin Wieck was understandably upset, because what had been called a double foul resulted in Southwest making two free throws and getting the ball. As Wieck discussed the issue with the officials, he was given a technical foul. The Mustangs pulled away to a 68-52 lead, and after two free throws by Myer trimmed it to 68-54. a bit of a scrap at the end line resulted in Rohrscheib getting a second flagrant foul!
Southwest won 75-63, as Brugge,am scpred 30, but Myer had 29 for UMD, Burns 12 and Rohrscheib 11 in a weird finish. For the game, UMD recovered from shooting only 28.6 percent in the first half to click on 48.1 percent in the second.
It wasn’t good, but it was entertaining.
Denfeld Bantams win Lake Superior Classic
Fans impressed that Denfeld is off to a strong start in high school hockey will be further impressed to realize the Denfeld A Bantam team has been over-achieving against Double-A teams, and last weekend won the A Bantam Lake Superior Classic.
Denfeld beat Sartell 5-1, then beat Dodge County 9-3, Armstrong-Cooper 7-1 and Woodbury 4-1 to reach the championship. Denfeld defeated Dodgde County 7-4 in the final. Bantam players are age 13-14, and Denfeld’s success should mean good things at the high school in the next couple of years.
Former Superior, Badger Star Fitzgerald Dies
Mark Fitzgerald, a former all-city quarterback and hockey star at Superior East in the 1960s, who went on to play on a hockey scholarship for Badger Bob Johnson at the University of Wisconsin, died unexpectedly last week at age 71.
Fitzgerald, who lived in Duluth, owned a restaurant in Rhinelander, Wis., was making a regular trip to drive from Duluth to oversee the restaurant and made his regular stop at a motel in Cable, Wis., Friday night. When the motel workers saw his car still in the parking lot Saturday, they checked his room and found that he had died in his sleep overnight.
Fitzgerald actually played four sports at Superior East, quarterbcking thde football team, playing center on the hockey team, and pitching for the baseball team, and also played on the basketball team in the days when Superior had three high schools. He had his choice of a football or hockey scholarship at Wisconsin and chose hockey.
A visitation will be Saturday at Lenroot-Maetzold Fjneral Home, 1209 E. 5th St., in Superior, with the funeral Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier Church, 2316 R. 4th St., in Superior.