BEMIDJI – Rarely is an 82-48 rout at the hands of a big rival a positive experience.
But that’s exactly how Dremaine Crockrell characterized Bemidji State’s loss at Minnesota State Moorhead last Saturday.
“It was good to get thrashed like that,” the BSU senior guard said. “It will hopefully wake us up a little bit and let us know we have to play harder on defense.”
The Beavers (6-5, 4-3 NSIC) were coming off a rough loss of a totally different sort the night before. BSU had a chance to knock off Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D., but Crockrell’s shot with nine seconds to go in the game fell just short and the Beavers lost 64-61.
This weekend, the Beavers return home determined to shake out the leftover rust from holiday break. They host Augustana at 8 p.m. today and welcome Wayne State at 6 p.m. Saturday in a pair of conference contests at the BSU Gymnasium.
“We understand we have to compete at all times and not take these games for granted,” BSU head coach Mike Boschee said of the lessons learned from last weekend. “I think we were a little lethargic, which happens during Christmas break, but you have to overcome some of that. We have to remind ourselves to motivate ourselves and play at a high level.”
Boschee said the Beavers came out flat in both weekend games. The difference was, they found a rhythm late and stayed competitive against Northern State, even taking a five-point lead in the second half.
Against MSU, the Beavers never really established a gameplan. They hung with the Dragons for much of the first half but BSU’s inability to defend against Moorhead’s outside shooting in the second half turned the game into a laugher in a span of eight minutes.
Crockrell said he thought the Beavers had trouble adjusting to the pace coming off the break. He wouldn’t use that as an excuse, though.
“We’ve been playing well overall, but there have been times where we just haven’t been very good,” he said. “Last weekend we were fatigued coming of the break, a little lackadaisical. Coming back home it should help us out a lot, but we need to play well all the time, no matter what.”
If one or two shots had gone their way BSU could be 6-1 and near the top of the league standings, but it doesn’t work that way. BSU’s record is its record, and the Beavers and Southwest Minnesota State are currently tied for ninth place with identical 4-3 conference records.
“I like our team right now team, but I think we’re still trying to find our way a little bit,” Boschee said. “Losing James Ellisor was such a huge blow, and we have so many role players that we’re trying to make into the main cogs, which is not always easy.”
Crockrell leads the Beavers in scoring, averaging an even 15 points per game. Mason Walters and Zach Noreen also average double figures for BSU.
Against Augustana (9-2, 5-2 NSIC) and Wayne State (8-5, 2-5), the Beavers will once again need all those cogs to work at the same time.
“Augustana is huge, they play guys that are 6-9, 6-9, 6-7 and 6-6 and have one of the best guards in the league,” Boschee said, referring to Cameron McCaffery, the second-leading scorer in the NSIC. “Wayne also has great guard play with Amry Shelby and also has some size.”
“They’re both great inside-outside teams and we’ll need to play complete games to beat both teams.”
Augustana received two votes in the most recent Division II poll.
Wayne State started the season 5-0 before losing to Augustana 72-66 in their conference opener.
“We have to come with it every game, not just one game,” Crockrell added. “And we have to play both halves. Recently we’ve just been playing one half. We have to get better at playing the whole game or we won’t win this weekend.”