BEMIDJI – The Bemidji State men’s basketball team finished the calendar year on a good note, with a 73-63 win over Minot State Saturday at the BSU gym.
“It is so nice. It makes Christmas so much more enjoyable,” Bemidji State head coach Mike Boschee said of the win. “I did not want our guys to have that negative feeling going into break.”
BSU did the majority of its damage on offense from behind the 3-point line, shooting 14-33 from long distance.
“It is a big part of the offense,” senior Lance Rongstad said. “Especially when teams go under our ball screens, we have to step up and hit shots to make them go over.”
Mason Walters got off to a hot start, scoring the first seven points which helped the Beavers grab a 7-2 lead.
Walters finished with 13 points.
A 3-pointer by Zach Noreen gave BSU a 22-16 lead with eight minutes left in the first half.
A pair of baskets from Dominique McDonald capped an 8-0 run for Minot and lifted the visitor to ther first lead at 24-22 with 5:52 remaining in the half.
Rongstad beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer from the corner to give Bemidji State a 32-29 halftime lead.
The teams traded baskets for the first eight minutes of the second half and BSU held a 2-point lead with just under 12 minutes remaining.
Three consecutive 3-point plays from Crockrell, Tor Anderson and Rongstad fueled a 9-0 run and the Beavers had their first double-digit lead of the game, 53-42, with 8:47 left to play.
Minot answered by scoring the next five points to trim the BSU lead back to five points, but a 3-pointer from Crockrell ended the run and increased the lead back to eight points at 56-48.
Crockrell scored 15 of his team-high 22 points from behind the 3-point line.
Rongstad’s fifth trey put the Beavers ahead 64-50 with 2:48 left to all but seal the victory.
Rongstad scored 17 points while grabbing a game-high eight rebounds.
“You have to have it as part of your offense,” Boschee said of the 3-point shot. “Especially when they clog everything up inside. It puts a lot of pressure on us to make them. Tonight we were fortunate enough to make them after making just three all of last night.”
EJ Williams led all scorers with 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting.
The Beavers, who turned the ball over 14 times in the first half, committed just four turnovers in the second half.
“A lot of it was decision-making,” Boschee said. “When we get ahead of ourselves, we turn the ball over. It happened in St. Cloud too, where we turn the ball over too much and the other team scores quickly. But we were able to turn things around and get a win, I could not be any more proud of the guys.”
“We had to play ‘in balance’ as coach calls it,” Rongstad added. “Which is just not doing anything more than you need to and doing your job as a part of the team.”
Bemidji State (6-3 4-1 NSIC) will be off until Jan. 4 when it will play at Northern State.
“We started off kind of struggling,” Rongstad said. “But we have built a team that can close games and that is good heading into the spring semester.”
Minot State (63) Williams 24 9-13 4-4, McDonald 11 4-5 2-2, Randall 6 2-5 2-6, Johnson 4 1-5 2-2, Fraser 2 1-5 0-0, Gandy 2 1-2 0-0, East 2 0-5 2-2, Korf 1 0-1 1-2. Totals 63 21-49 18-24.
Bemidji State (73) Crockrell 22 6-12 5-6, Rongstad 17 6-10 0-0, Walters 13 5-9 2-2, Edwards 7 1-5 5-6, Noreen 6 2-7 0-0, Anderson 6 2-5 1-1, Farrington 2 1-3 0-0, Rosenbloom 0 0-1 0-0, Jones 0 0-2 0-0. Totals 73 23-54 13-15.
Halftime: Bemidji State 32 Minot State 29