WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Turnovers plague Beavers in 77-52 loss

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BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State women’s basketball team couldn’t solve a stingy 2-3 zone defense from Wayne State on Friday, making for a frustrating 77-52 loss at the BSU Gymnasium.

“I think that their pressure really disturbed us and our offense,” freshman center Taylor Bray said. “Obviously getting in a flow offensively is very important for the game. We’ve struggled with that all year… We need to clean up our game and play our game.”

Turnovers killed the Beavers, too, as 23 on the night piled up and turned into 23 points for WSC, keeping Bemidji State out of rhythm.

“We had good looks when we didn’t turn it over,” BSU head coach Chelsea DeVille said. “That was the big thing. They pressure you a little bit, but we turned the ball over a ton, and then they scored 23 points off of those.”

The Beavers (4-17, 3-14 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) jumped out to a 6-2 lead when Mikayla Larson turned a 1-on-3 fast-break into a layup, but the Wildcats (19-6, 13-4 NSIC) answered with 10 of the next 11 points.

Bemidji State climbed back within one on a Sierra Senske turnaround jumper soon after, but WSC still had a 17-11 advantage after the opening quarter.

And with the first six points of the second, Wayne State turned in an 11-0 run for a double-digit advantage. Halley Busse finished it off in transition with a layup, putting the Beavers in a 23-11 hole.

The difference hit 14 when a Kacie O’Connor jumper made for a 30-16 game, but Bemidji State was back within 10 by the half -- 34-24 -- on a step-back three from Erica Gartner.

BSU was within eight early in the third quarter, as a Sam Adamich layup made for a 36-28 game. But the Wildcats didn’t keep a thin lead for much longer.

A crafty finish at the rim by Busse capped an ensuing 8-0 run for Wayne State, and the spread widened to 20 when Andrea Larson scored through contact in the post and added a free throw for a three-point play.

“They were efficient that third quarter knocking down some mid-range jumpers,” DeVille said. “We gave them heck in the paint, so they did go to some pull-up jumpers off ball screens. And we were empty on our side, whether it was soft shots or turnovers, and it felt like they went to the other end for a quick layup with (it).”

Kacie O’Connor buried 3-pointers on three straight possessions for WSC in the fourth quarter, sending the Wildcats well on their way to the 77-52 win.

“We came out stronger in our first half than we did in the second half,” Bray said. “All year, we’ve been struggling with coming out slow in the first half. So this game, we came out strong in the first half, but then we came out slow in the second half.”

Bray and Senske finished with 10 points apiece for BSU, while Wayne State had a trio of scorers in double figures. Busse led the way with 17, and O’Connor and Maggie Schulte followed suit with 13 and 12, respectively. But more than anything, the turnovers were what did in the Beavers.

“Some of them you can let go, but some of them were just brain-dead, first-side turnovers where we just don’t appreciate the possession enough,” DeVille said. “They capitalized on them way too many times. Those hurt us. That was a big focus at the end to talk about, let the kids know how important it will be, especially going into (Saturday’s) game.”

The Beavers will return to the BSU Gymnasium for today’s bout with No. 7 Augustana, tipping off at 4 p.m. in hopes of an upset.