BEMIDJI -- A fast start quickly fizzled for the Bemidji State men’s basketball team on Saturday night, as John Warren carried the red-hot hand -- and Augustana -- to a 92-66 victory at the BSU Gymnasium.
“They’re a really good basketball team,” Beavers head coach Mike Boschee said. “When you get Warren going like he got going… it makes them really difficult to guard. He’s an all-conference type of player when he gets going. It was difficult when a team shoots that well against you from three.”
Warren shot an impressive 8-for-13 from beyond the arc en route to 32 points on the night, while also grabbing 14 rebounds, leading the Vikings past a slow start and out to a dominant second-half finish.
Both teams caught fire over the first three minutes -- combining for a 9-for-9 start from the field -- but Bemidji State (10-13, 7-11 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) took the upper hand at 16-8 on Logan Bader’s second 3-pointer in as many minutes.
BSU made its first six shots, including its opening four from downtown, but it didn’t seem like the Vikings (14-10, 9-9 NSIC) were rattled by it.
“They were down... but they seemed unfazed,” senior guard Sharif Black said. “They had the same facial expressions, same body language from when they were down to when they were up. That comes with (experience).”
From then on, Augie showed its championship pedigree.
As the Beavers missed their next seven shots, AU scored nine of the next 10 points for a 17-17 deadlock. The Vikings continued answer back when Bemidji State took small leads, and, after a second-chance layup from Black put BSU ahead 30-27, Augustana stormed off.
With eight minutes left in the first half, Warren drilled back-to-back threes to spark a 10-0 Augie run and a 37-30 advantage. Warren then added another 3-pointer to finish a separate 9-0 spurt late in the half, and the Vikings took a 48-38 lead into the break.
“Our guys were fired up. Straight out of the tunnel, we were ready to go,” Black said of the start of the game. “We were guarding pretty well besides Warren, he had a couple tough threes. I was really happy, but then their zone slowed us down and we weren’t hitting shots.”
The Beavers kept the difference around 10 to start the second half, and a baseline drive and layup for Black made for a 65-57 game with 10 minutes, 42 seconds to play. But Bemidji State went cold on its next five shots, opening the doors for Augustana to race off on another run.
And Augie scored 17 straight to silence any comeback attempt.
Warren drained another three 3-pointers for the final nine of the 17-0 spurt, which put BSU in a 82-57 hole. His night was done after that -- as was BSU’s, falling victim to the 92-66 final.
“You always want to start the game as well as you possibly can, but it’s not the end-all for us,” Boschee said. “We’ve started poor and won games, as well as starting out fast. It’s how we finish. I was disappointed in how we finished.”
Black racked up 22 points to lead Bemidji State offensively, while Jai’Vionne Green added 12 and Derek Thompson 11. Along with 32 and 14 from Warren, meanwhile, Augustana received 17 points and 10 rebounds from Adam Dykman and another 12 points apiece from Marcus Asmus and Bodey Behrends.
“(Jordan) Spencer is able to get so many people involved,” Boschee said of AU’s point guard, who tallied six assists. “And then you add Warren to the mix… He was tough. And Dykman. They just had a really well-balanced game tonight. They played extremely well.”
Bemidji State returns to the BSU Gymnasium at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9, for a bout with Minnesota State Moorhead.
Augustana 92, Bemidji State 66
AU 48 44 -- 92
BSU 38 28 -- 66
Augustana (14-10, 9-9 NSIC) -- Warren 32, Dykman 17, Asmus 12, Behrends 12, Schaefer 8, Spencer 8, Bryan 3, Cartwright 0, Gerald 0, Kerkman 0, Stevenson 0. Totals 32-67 13-17 92.
Bemidji State (10-13, 7-11 NSIC) -- Black 22, Green 12, Thompson 11, Bader 9, Pekarek 7, Sorenson 3, McNallan 2, Baumgartner 0, Chase 0, Jacobson 0, Rovney 0. Totals 23-57, 10-17 66.