BEMIDJI – If the Bemidji State women were looking for a respite at home tonight and tomorrow following another rough road trip, well, they know better than to expect that in the NSIC.
After losing to Northern State and Minnesota State Moorhead on the road, the Beavers welcome a pair of nationally-ranked teams to Bemidji this weekend. BSU plays No. 13 Augustana at 6 p.m. today then hosts No. 22 Wayne State at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“It was a rough road trip,” BSU head coach Mike Curfman said. “And it doesn’t get any easier for us this weekend or next, but it’s the same for everybody. It’s just a tough league.”
The Beavers (6-5, 2-5 NSIC) have yet to win a road game in the conference but came close Friday against Northern State.
Down just 51-50 with 20 seconds left, they couldn’t get a shot to fall and the Wolves eked out a 53-50 win.
“It came down to, we were down one with 20 seconds to go, Ellie Wessling had a good look at the basket but left it a little short,” Curfman said of the loss in Aberdeen, S.D. “It stings a bit because it was on the road and Northern State is a tough place to play and win on the road. We played pretty well, and shot well but didn’t make enough plays.”
A similar breakdown the next night in Moorhead saw the Dragons pull away in the second half after the Beavers trailed by just four at halftime.
This weekend, the Beavers will have to play nearly flawless defense if they hope to upset a pair of nationally-ranked teams.
“We have to be more consistent,” BSU junior guard Morgan Lee said. “Last weekend we had a lot of turnovers. We have to clean those up. We can be a lot better, but we can’t turn it over if we want to beat Augie and Wayne.”
BSU turned it over 16 times against Northern State and 25 times in the 75-55 loss to MSU Moorhead.
Augustana started the season 9-0 but dropped a pair of home games last weekend – the first time the Vikings had lost back-to-back home games since 2004.
Wayne State, meanwhile, is 8-3 overall but all three losses have come in conference play; their loss to Concordia-St. Paul Friday night snapped a 52-game home winning streak for the Wildcats.
Curfman said the Vikings and Wildcats couldn’t be much different.
Augustana shoots 35.9 percent as a team from 3-point range and all five starters shoot above 30 percent from downtown.
Wayne State plays stout defense and utilizes a 2-3 zone to great effect – the Wildcats limits teams to just 56 points per game and opponents only shoot 35.5 percent against them.
“It comes down to getting stops on defense and making plays on offense,” Curfman said.
“Hopefully playing at home is a huge advantage for us. It doesn’t get much tougher than playing two top-25-ranked teams on the same weekend but I’m looking forward to it and I know the players are as well.”