BEMIDJI – “It sure is nice to beat the number one team in the division!”
At least that was how coach Mike Curfman felt after his Bemidji State women’s basketball team stunned division leading Northern State 64-57 Saturday.
And why shouldn’t Curfman and his players celebrate? BSU found the answer to its recent woes and those answers came from everywhere.
In a closely fought first half, defense was the order as both teams played close to the vest. Northern moved to a 5-point lead with just over seven minutes remaining only to see the Beavers close the half with 15-6 run.
While it was refreshing to see a mini-offensive awakening, the last 30 seconds of the half told a larger story. Down four and with the shot clock off, Wolves coach Curt Fredrickson called a timeout to plot the strategy for the final shot of the half.
BSU however, had other things in mind, and locked down the Wolves. A desperation airball at the buzzer was all the home team would allow and the 27-23 lead and the momentum went into the BSU locker room.
“Our post defense really keyed our overall success,” said Curfman. BSU limited Northern to just 34 percent shooting on the night, and the physical play on the inside was not for the timid. Also telling to this point was BSU leading the points off turnovers battle 10-0.
When the teams returned to the court, Bemidji State’s quick and agile guards took over.
With 14 minutes to play and the Beavers trailing 33-32 the game suddenly turned into a see-saw shootout. And by the time it was done, all but two of the final 32 BSU points came from the guards.
Morgan Lee and Lanae Rash were the answer to every challenge Northern threw out. And just when it looked like this would go to the wire, Shannon Thompson picked a pocket for a lay-up to put the Beavers up three, and two minutes later, Allison McKee coldly drilled a 3-pointer and BSU had all the cushion the defense would need.
“We’ve been struggling offensively with being consistent,” the coach said. “The difference tonight was we didn’t look to just one player. We had a lot of contributors.”
In the second half, the Bemidji State guards combined to shoot 13-for-18 from the floor, sealing the division leader’s fate.
Lee led the Beavers with 22 points. Lanae Rash added 12 along with 10 rebounds for an unconventional double double for a guard. Rachel Krogman led Northern with 18 points while Alison Kusler had 16.
The win lifted BSU to 4-10 in NSIC play and 8-10 overall. Northern fell to 9-5 and 13-5.
Northern (57): Magner 1, 0-0, 2; Hintz 3, 2-2, 8; Kusler 6, 2-3, 16; Mutchler 3, 1-2, 7; Krogman 7, 4-6, 18; Smith 1, 1-2, 3; Rabenberg 1, 0-0, 3. Totals: 22-63, 10-15, 57
BSU (64): Rash 5, 2-4, 12; Lee 9, 2-2, 22; Thompson 3, 1-3, 9; Warmack 4, 2-2, 10; Althoff 0, 0-0, 0; Wessling 0, 0-0, 0; Yungblut 1, 0-0, 3; McKee 2, 0-1, 6; Kaus 1, 0-0, 2. Totals; 25-48, 7-12, 64
3-point FG: Northern 3-12, BSU 7-16 (Lee 2, Thompson 2, Youngblut 1, McKee 2)
Fouls: Northern 17, BSU 15
Halftime: BSU 27, Northern 23