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Bemidji St. proves it can win back-to-back games

Bemidji’s Lance Rongstad scores over David Maxwell of Sioux Falls during first-half action of Saturday’s game. BSU Photo Services

BEMIDJI - The Bemidji State men’s basketball team defeated Sioux Falls 72-69 Saturday at the BSU gym to earn its first weekend sweep since defeating U-Mary and Minot State back in mid-December.

“It has been awhile since we had a good weekend,” Bemidji State head coach Mike Boschee said. “It is really nice for our guys to prove to themselves they can win back-to-back games.”

Zach Noreen scored eight of the Beavers’ first 10 points that built a 10-6 lead after five minutes of play.

Mason Walters made three 3-pointers in a span of four minutes to give BSU a 27-16 lead with 6:32 left in the first half.

Walters finished with 16 points and shot 4-of-6 from behind the arc.

The Cougars ended the half on an 11-5 run, but the Beavers held a 32-27 halftime lead.

A 3-pointer from A.J. Holland gave Sioux Falls its first lead since the opening minutes at 41-39 with 14:43 to play.

A pair of treys from Dermaine Crockrell and one from Lance Rongstad put BSU back in front at 60-53 with 6:07 remaining.

“Coach says whenever I shoot the 3-ball it helps me spread the ball and helps others get open,” Crockrell said. “If I start making shots, it opens up the game for others and myself. I can start attacking the basket as well.”

Crockrell finished with 19 points and four assists.

Sioux Falls inched its way back and eventually took a 64-63 lead with just 1:57 to play.

Crockrell drove to the basket for a layup to take the lead and Jason Edwards stole the inbounds pass to regain possession with a one-point lead. Rongstad converted on an old-fashioned three-point play at the end of the shot clock to give BSU a 68-64 advantage.

“He’s always sneaky, we call him black magic,” Crockrell said of Edwards. “That play goes to show how he is on the court. That play turned the game around.”

Down by four with 15 seconds left, Derek Brown banked a desperation fade-away 3-pointer to keep the Cougars’ hopes alive. But after Rongstad made a pair of free throws, Brown and Holland each missed treys that would have tied the game.

Rongstad led the Beavers in scoring with 20 points and made all 10 of his free throw attempts.

“Every team has guys that you call closers,” Boschee said. “They are guys who make the big plays and good decisions at the end of games. They are also guys that are able to knock down free throws at the end of close games. We are certainly fortunate that Lance is playing that role right now.”

The Beavers played the majority of the second half without post players Noreen and Maxie Rosenbloom because of foul trouble.

“Foul trouble certainly caused some problems,” Boschee said. “Jake Schalow has been working hard in practice all year and he can spread the floor. So we took the gamble and went small and it worked really well for everybody.”

Bemidji State will look to ride this momentum when it travels to play Minnesota State and Concordia-St. Paul next weekend.

Sioux Falls (69): Rader 19 5-9 9-11, Brown 17 6-9 2-2, Holland 10 3-9 3-4, Maxwell 9 3-10 3-4, Moffitt 7 3-5 0-0, Robey 2 1-1 0-0, Kielpinski 2 1-2 0-0, Freeman 2 1-2 0-0, Goffney 1 0-4 1-2, Dixon 0 0-0 0-0, Stotts 0 0-0 0-0. Totals 69 23-51 18-23.

Bemidji State (72): Rongstad 20 4-9 10-10, Crockrell 19 7-13 3-5, Walters 16 6-10 0-0, Noreen 10 5-6 0-2, Edwards 5 2-3 0-0, Rosenbloom 2 1-2 0-2, Farrington 0 0-1 0-0, Jones 0 0-1, Schalow 0 0-0 0-0. Totals 72 25-49 13-20.

Halftime: Bemidji State 32 Sioux Falls 27