PHOENIX, Ariz. -- The Bemidji State University women's basketball team used a second half push and freshman fire power to earn a 61-57 victory against Western State University (Colo.) Friday at the Grand Canyon Thanksgiving Tournament.
Freshman Katie Pettit led the team in points with 15 while adding eight rebounds and five assists. Freshman center Emily Kaus had a game-high 14 rebounds and a BSU single-game record seven blocks.
With the win, the Beavers improve to 3-1 on the season, matching last season's win total. The last time BSU has started 3-1 was the 2002-03 season.
Kaus surpassed Christine Schulze for the single-game block record. Schulze recorded six blocks against the University of Minnesota-Morris in the 1999-00 season. Kaus now has five or more blocks in a game twice this season and her 14 rebounds is a team-high in 2009-10.
"This was a game where our defense took another step forward," said head coach Mike Curfman. "Despite giving-up too many offensive rebounds and second chance points, our defense played well. It's very important for our team to pull out these close games early in the season to gain confidence down the road."
The Beavers were down 10 points halfway through the first half at 15-5.
BSU made a 22-13 run to end the first frame behind eight points from sophomore Sydney Epema to cut the halftime deficit to 28-27.
A jumper from freshman Jessie Althoff at the 17:38 mark of the second half gave BSU its first lead of the game at 31-30.
Western cut BSU's lead to 49-47 with seven minutes remaining in the second half , but that was as close as the Mountaineers would get.
Four Beavers were in double-digits in scoring. Althoff had 12 points. Epema and junior guard Anna Hebrink had 10. Sophomore guard Samantha Baldwin came off the bench to add five points and five rebounds.
BSU shot just 35.2 percent from the floor and 23.3 percent from beyond the arc, but held its opponent to a dismal 26.9 percent from the field.
The Beavers wrap up tournament play against Western New Mexico Saturday at 3 p.m.