BEMIDJI – After sharing many memories with their former head coach – Matt Bowen – seniors Mason Walters, Dermaine Crockrell, Jason Edwards and Lance Rongstad did their best to spoil their former coach’s return to Bemidji by defeating Minnesota-Duluth 79-64 Friday at the BSU Gym.
“It is obviously unique,” Bowen said of being back. “It was great to see all of the players and their families that I have built relationships with over the years. At the end of the day, that is what it is all about, to be welcomed the way I was, was very comforting to say the least.”
The win completed BSU’s season sweep over UMD.
“Tonight was not as bad as the first time we played them,” Walters said. “It is obviously a little different seeing him on the other side of the bench, but I think we just took it as another game and played hard.”
Current BSU head coach Mike Boschee agreed that the team was focused on the game more than the coach on the other side.
“I think they all moved on from that a long time ago,” Boschee said. “It is probably going to be awkward the first few times Matt comes back here, but our guys want to compete and want to play hard every game. Certainly, when a coach leaves there is going to be a little bit of sting, but time heals all wounds.”
The Beavers shot out to an early 10-5 lead with consecutive layups from Crockrell and Maxie Rosenbloom gave the Beavers after just five and a half minutes of play.
UMD answered with a 6-0 run to take an 11-10 lead – its only lead of the night – with 11:47 remaining in the first half.
But back-to-back three-pointers from Edwards and Crockrell gave the Beavers a seven-point lead at 26-19 with 6:41 left in the half.
BSU led 36-29 at halftime.
Crockrell finished the night with 19 points and eight assists.
Early in the second half, a three-pointer from Rongstad and a layup by Walters gave the Beavers their first double-digit lead of the night at 41-31 with 18:59 left to play.
Walters posted a double-double with a team-high 22 points and 13 rebounds that included a perfect 9-9 at the free throw line and five offensive rebounds.
“I’m trying to be more aggressive on both ends of the floor,” Walters said. “Rebounding is all about attacking the glass and fighting for the loose balls. I have been able to grab a few more now than in the past and I am glad I can help the team out in any way I can.”
The Bulldogs answered with a 16-7 run to cut the lead to one point at 48-47 with 13:20 remaining.
The Beavers responded with a 16-2 run over the next five minutes to build a more comfortable lead at 64-49.
The lead stayed as large as 15 points until the four-minute mark.
Peter Crawford and Calahan Skogman delivered back-to-back three-pointers to fuel an 8-0 run that put UMD within seven at 71-64 with 2:28 remaining.
The Beavers answered by scoring the last eight points of the game to secure the victory.
“Duluth is a good basketball team and they made three outside shots in that stretch,” Boschee said. “On our end, we were a little quick to shoot from the perimeter, so we started to attack and try to score off of penetration. That is what really made the difference in the final minutes.”
BSU made 19 of its 21 attempts from the free throw line.
“It is something that we work on in practice every day,” Walters said of free throw shooting. “Tonight we were able to make them and it really helped us seal the game.”
Lance Rongstad finished with 21 points and eight rebounds.
“You have to give Mike credit for what he has done with these kids,” Bowen said. “I cannot help to be proud of them for how they have played this year and how they have responded. Admittedly, I put them in a bad situation. For them to respond like this and have this kind of season is something to be proud of.”
Brett Ervin led all scorers with 26 points on 12-of-16 shooting.
Bemidji State (14-11 12-9 NSIC) will host No. 22 St. Cloud State at 6 p.m. today.
The Huskies will come in with a chip on its shoulder after losing 80-77 to a previously 0-22 Minnesota, Crookston team Friday.
“St. Cloud is a quality team and we are going to have to play extremely hard to beat them regardless of what happens,” Boschee said. “You know Crookston was going win a game sometime, those things happen. Our guys will have to play with emotions and control them while playing our best basketball in order to win.”
MINNESOTA DULUTH (64) – Ervin 12-16 0-0 26; Hottenstine 5-17 2-2 12; Crawford 1-4 5-6 8; Reetz 3-7 0-0 7; Zoelle 2-7 0-0 5; Skogman 1-6 1-2 4; Pohlen 1-1 0-0 2; Erik Powers 0-0 0-0 0; Jackson 0-3 0-0 0; Rodriguez 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 25-63 8-10 64.
BEMIDJI STATE (79) – Walters 6-14 9-9 22; Rongstad 6-13 4-4 21; Crockrell 6-15 4-6 19; Rosenbloom 3-4 2-2 8; Edwards 3-7 0-0 7; Noreen 1-5 0-0 2; Schalow 0-1 0-0 0; Farrington 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-59 19-21 79.
Halftime Score: BSU 36, UMD 29
3-point goals – UMD 6-23 (Ervin 2-2; Skogman 1-4; Reetz 1-3; Zoelle 1-4; Crawford 1-2; Jackson 0-1; Hottenstine 0-7), BSU 10-27 (Rongstad 5-10; Crockrell 3-8; Walters 1-2; Edwards 1-3; Schalow 0-1; Noreen 0-3).
Fouled out – None.
Rebounds – UMD 28 (Ervin 5), BSU 44 (Walters 13).
Assists – UMD 12 (Crawford 4), BSU 15 (Crockrell 8).
Total fouls – UMD 16, BSU 10.