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Men's basketball: Minnesota State stops BSU 79-74

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BEMIDJI — A brief scoring drought in the second half proved costly for BSU in a 79-74 loss to No. 18 Minnesota State Friday at the BSU gym.

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The Beavers trailed by 11 points with just over two minutes remaining but a trio of three-point plays from junior Brock Lutes helped the Beavers climb within a single possession at 77-74 with 14 seconds left. The late rally, however, fell just short.

“I have never questioned the fight of this team,” BSU head coach Mike Boschee said. “They have been a gritty group all year and tonight was no different.”

“We are always going to fight, no matter what,” Lutes added. “It hurts to lose against such a good team but we still have to move forward. I know this team is always going to fight.”

Minnesota State forward Assem Marei is 6-foot, 9-inches and presented an early matchup problem for BSU. He used his advantage to score three early baskets which gave the visitors a 10-8 lead after six minutes of play.

“We feel like we have two very good posts,” MSU head coach Matt Margenthaler said. “We felt like we had an advantage inside tonight and we wanted to establish it early.”

After missing their first three attempts from long range, the Beavers made four consecutive three-pointers (two from Lutes and one each from Jake Schalow and Dillon Floyd) to take a 28-25 lead with 5:35 left in the first half.

Marei and Zach Monaghan scored the next eight points for MSU to spark an 8-2 run that led to a 33-30 lead with 2:27 remaining in the half and the Mavericks owned a 37-34 lead at the half.

Each team led by as many as three points in the first half but the difference was never more than a single possession.

“We knew this was going to be a grind-out game,” Margenthaler said. “We know when we come up here it is going to be a heck of a game.”

MSU got the first basket of the second half to increase its lead to five points but BSU regained the lead at 47-44 on a three-pointer from Schalow with 14:40 to play.

Zach Noreen committed his fourth foul with 11:05 to go and was forced to sit for the next six minutes until Floyd committed his fifth foul.

“It is tough when your best post player is on the bench half the game and their guys are out there,” Boschee said. “He is one of the best players in the conference and having him on the bench makes it tough.”

Connor O’Brien came back from an ankle injury he suffered earlier in the half to score five straight points to break a 58-58 tie and Marei scored the next three points to make it an 8-0 run and give the Mavericks their largest lead up to that point at 66-58.

“That was huge because we were sparring for the first 30 minutes,” Margenthaler said. “We finally got consecutive stops and it was important that we made them pay for it.”

Minnesota State allowed BSU to come back by failing to capitalize at the free throw line. It shot just 63 percent (17-27) on the night.

Marei and O’Brien led the way for the Mavericks with 22 points each.

“Give them credit,” Boschee said. “They are a really good team, but we had our chances too. It is always disappointing to lose.”

“Fouls and rebounding killed us,” Lutes added. “They are a really good team and in order to beat them we have to play dang near perfect.”

Lutes led the Beavers with 32 points for his third consecutive 30-point effort.

BSU (17-6, 14-5 NSIC) will look to rebound against Concordia-SP today at 6 p.m.

“I think we have a good group of guys who understand the process of how the schedule works,” Boschee said. “The next game on the slate is Concordia-St.Paul and we need to play at the highest level we possibly can.”

MSU (79) : O’Brien 9-12 4-5 22; Marei 9-20 4-8 22; Monaghan 4-11 6-9 15; Wooten 5-7 2-3 13; Romashko 2-5 0-0 6; Hanks 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 29-58 17-27 79.

BSU (74): Lutes 9-18 10-11 32; Noreen 4-10 2-2 10; Rosenbloom 4-7 2-3 10; Schalow 3-7 2-2 8; Farrington 2-6 3-4 7; Floyd 3-3 0-0 7. Totals 25-53 17-20 74.

Halftime: MSU 37, BSU 34

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