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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Balanced BSU beats UM Crookston for first time since 2009

BEMIDJI – The Bemidji State women’s basketball team will be deep this year. And balanced. That was clearly on display Saturday afternoon, as BSU downed the Minnesota Crookston Golden Eagles 74-66 in the conference opener for both teams.

It was BSU’s first win over the Golden Eagles since 2009, snapping a six-game losing streak.

In a game of peaks and valleys, Crookston came out on fire. The Eagles scored on their first four possessions, and opened an early 8-point lead. They kept up the torrid shooting through the game’s first 10 minutes.

Bemidji State’s LaNae Rash takes the ball inside. Jack Hittinger | Bemidji Pioneer

“They were really shooting well at the start,” BSU head coach Mike Curfman said.

The stat sheet agreed. In the opening ten minutes, Crookston made 10 of the 16 shots they took.

But while the Eagles were riding the hot hand, BSU was establishing its depth. A steady rotation of fresh, quick guards along with solid inside play allowed the Beavers to weather the early shooting by Crookston.

The home team rode a 14-6 run late in the half, highlighted by a pair of Shannon Thompson treys, into a 44-41 halftime lead.

Thompson led the Beavers at this point with 11 points. Lanae Rash added 10 as BSU received 27 points off the bench to 4 for the visitors. Brittani Wiese led the Golden Eagles with 11.

The second half saw the Beavers steadily pester the Eagles with a variety of defenses, keeping them from finding the early rhythm they enjoyed. After the gaudy start, Crookston was able to manage only 26 percent shooting in the second half.

“We tried a couple of different presses, one aggressive and one a little more passive, along with some zone,” Curfman said. “It seemed to be effective.”

Leading 68-60 with just over two minutes to play, the Beavers were able to withstand two three pointers from the Eagles’ Ashley Martell with solid execution on three consecutive possessions.

An inside hoop from Kate Warmack, a Thompson jumper and two free throws from Ellie Wessling dashed any Crookston hopes.

Wessling led BSU with 16 points on her usual variety pack of shots, while Warmack added 15, Lanae Rash 14 and Thompson 13. Warmack also kicked in 13 rebounds to quietly collect the double-double.

Crookston was led by Wiese’s 16.

The win moves the Beavers to 5-0, 1-0 in the NSIC, while Crookston falls to 3-2, 0-1.

BSU takes to the road next weekend for games at St. Cloud and Minnesota Duluth. Their next home action will be Dec. 14 against the University of Mary.

Minnesota Crookston (66)

Wiese 6-12 4-6 16; Martell 4-8 2-3 13; Tyson 2-5 8-10 12; Perkins 5-11 0-1 12; Thielman 2-9 0-0 4; Moenkedick 2-5 0-2 4; Christenson 1-2 0-0 3; Walker 0-4 2-2 2; McRoberts 0-1 0-0 0; Bunning 0-0 0-2 0; Livingston 0-2 0-0 0; Church 0-1 0-0 0; Lahr 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-61 16-26 66.

Bemidji State (74)

Wessling 5-8 6-7 16; Warmack 5-7 5-5 15; Rash 7-18 0-0 14; Thompson 5-8 1-1 13; Lee 2-12 4-4 8; Althoff 3-8 0-0 6; Reichert 1-1 0-0 2; Valley 0-1 0-0 0; McKee 0-1 0-0 0; Youngblut 0-0 0-0 0; Kaus 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-64 16-17 74.

3-point goals—Minnesota Crookston 6-20, Bemidji State 2-12.

Rebounds—Minnesota Crookston 39, Bemidji State 40.

Halftime score: Bemidji State 44, Minnesota Crookston 41.