The turnaround of the Bemidji State women's basketball team has been one of the biggest surprises of the winter sports season in Bemidji.
This weekend will be another strong test for BSU. The Beavers host Augustana on Saturday at 4 p.m. and Wayne State on Sunday at 2 p.m. at BSU Gymnasium.
Ahead of the Beavers in the standings is Wayne State (9-1 overall, 2-1 NSIC) in a tie for fifth place and Augustana (9-1 overall, 3-0 NSIC) in a tie for first place.
The Beavers (8-3 overall, 2-2 NSIC) are coming off a major victory over No. 11 Minnesota State University, Mankato: an 80-72 win two weeks ago in the final game of the first half of the season.
The win proved Bemidji State is for real and the two-win season of last year is safely a distant memory.
The Beavers are tied for seventh place in the conference standings with three other teams and are only two wins out of first place.
The Beavers carry a four-game winning streak into the second half of the season and have won of six of the last eight games.
The only two losses during the stretch came on the opening weekend of conference play in the beginning of December.
One was a double-overtime loss to Moorhead and the other was a four-point loss to Minnesota-Crookston.
BSU has not lost since that weekend and are winning with a balanced high-pressure offense combined with a surprisingly strong defense.
Freshman Katie Pettit (12 ppg) and sophomore Sydney Epema (11 ppg) are the starters leading the offense.
Junior transfer Anna Hebrink has been a strong addition to BSU this season and her 54 rebounds rank second on the team only to freshman Emily Kaus' 81 rebounds.
Kaus ranks sixth in NSIC rebounding and is the only freshman on the list of leaders. She ranks second in the league in blocked shots (26).
Junior Colleen McKay provides a nice boost in the post for the Beavers off the bench and when she subs in for Pettit or Kaus, she can create matchup problems for opponents. She has hit 56 percent of field goals this season for the Beavers - the highest on the team.