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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: BSU grinds out 52-51 comeback

BEMIDJI -- It was dire for the Bemidji State women’s basketball team on Saturday night.

By allowing an early 16-0 run to St. Cloud State, they faced a 22-6 hole by the second quarter, which led to a lackadaisical 29-16 deficit at halftime. So what changed?

“A speech that said, ‘Let’s get going. Do you want to play basketball?’” BSU head coach Chelsea DeVille said. “At halftime, we didn’t talk about how to stop them or how to score, we talked about fight and heart. And they answered.”

Behind an inspired second half, the Beavers fought back and pulled out a gutty 62-61 win over the Huskies from the BSU Gymnasium.

“We just felt like we had to play for each other, unselfish basketball,” Sydney Arrington said. “That’s what we came out and did. We showed fight and we showed heart.”

The Beavers (2-4, 1-1 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) suffered through a scoreless drought of nearly nine minutes between the first and second quarters. After a 6-all tie, SCSU (4-2, 1-1 NSIC) ran off the last 10 points of the first, then the first six of the second. And although Bemidji State had a brief 8-2 run before halftime, the hole remained at 29-16 by the break.

“We were down 13, and we could’ve been down 23 for all I knew,” DeVille said. “We felt like we were backs against the walls.”

That changed in the second half.

Back-to-back and-ones from Arrington and Sierra Senske capped a 12-1 run early in the third. Soon after, Mia Appicelli and Sydney Zerr scored on a layup and a three, respectively, making for a three-point game at 38-35, which turned to 45-40 after three.

St. Cloud State answered back, taking a 50-43 lead off a Nikki Kilboten jumper with four minutes to play. But then BSU finally broke through.

Mikayla Larson followed an inside score by Arrington with a swish from downtown, pulling the Beavers within two at 50-48 with two minutes left. Then Arrington gave Bemidji State the lead -- another and-one for a 51-50 edge.

And after both teams traded a free throw in the last minute, BSU had a 52-51 lead. But with 4.2 seconds left, the Huskies had the ball for a chance at the win through Andrea Thomas, who had already racked up 24 points.

“(Thomas) was going downhill on us all night. She had a great game,” Arrington said. “At the end of the game, we needed to lock down. The ball’s going to be in her hands. We knew exactly what they were going to do -- she went downhill.”

But with one final stand on defense, the Beavers closed the books with a 9-1 run to end the night, taking the 52-51 thriller.

“Credit to Syd Zerr for guarding (Thomas) and locking down at the end of the game,” Arrington said. “Defense wins games, and that’s exactly what we showed tonight.”

Arrington paced BSU with 16 points, and Brooklyn Bachmann added 13. After her buzzer-beater attempt was blocked, Thomas remained at 24 for St. Cloud State.

“We just proved that (the deficit) didn’t matter. We just beat a really, really good team,” DeVille said. “I don’t know how, statistically, we won that basketball game. But I know that we won it with heart.”

The Beavers will return to action at 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, at No. 16 Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D.

Bemidji State 52, St. Cloud State 51

SCSU 16 13 16 6 -- 51

BSU 6 10 24 12 -- 52

St. Cloud State (4-2, 1-1 NSIC) -- Thomas 24; Wortz 14; Johnson 5; Doucette 2; Christianson 2; Kilboten 2; Uter 2; Steen 0; Johnson 0; Korf 0; Dammann 0. Totals 20-67 8-17 51.

Bemidji State (2-4, 1-1 NSIC) -- Arrington 16; Bachmann 13; Senske 7; Appicelli 5; Larson 5; Adamich 3; Zerr 3; Bray 0; Rappe 0; Gartner 0; Scheuer 0. Totals 18-54 11-15 52.

Micah Friez

Micah Friez is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, he is currently studying Creative and Professional Writing at Bemidji State. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.

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