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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Beavers fend off scrappy Mayville State in home opener

Bemidji State freshman Hannah Zerr looks for an opening between Mayville State’s Missy Kassube (22) and Hailey Longtin during their game Tuesday at the BSU Gymnasium. The Beavers won 84-80. BSU Photo Services

BEMIDJI -- It took all 40 minutes, but the Bemidji State women's basketball team fought off Mayville State in a thrilling 84-80 victory in its regular season opener Tuesday at the BSU Gym.

The Beavers (1-0) overcame an early Mayville double-digit lead then fended off the Comets in the final minutes to secure the victory.

"It is awesome to get the win," BSU senior center Kate Warmack said. "It is my last home opener and I am just really glad we were able to finish it off."

BSU freshman Hanna Zerr and senior Morgan Lee fueled the Beavers early, making the first five baskets to give them an early 11-6 lead.

Mayville State would answer with a 24-9 run that built a double-digit lead at 37-27 with 4:17 remaining in the first half.

"They are a really fast-paced scrappy team," Warmack said of the Comets. "We are a more slow-paced team so it was a difficult adjustment to make, but I am glad we were able to make it."

"We knew they were going to shoot a lot of three-pointers," Bemidji State head coach Mike Curfman said. "We had to make adjustments and slow down their fast pace and eliminate the drives to the basket."

Zerr delivered with a three-pointer and a layup on consecutive possessions to cut the lead in half and begin a 12-1 run that ended the first half to give BSU a 39-38 lead.

She finished with 15 points and led all players with seven assists and four steals.

The two teams traded baskets in the opening four minutes of the second half, but the Beavers opened up the game with an 11-0 run, building its first double-digit lead of the game at 59-47 with 12:42 left to play.

Despite trailing by as many as 14 points at 69-55, the Comets fought their way back into the game and cut the deficit to five points at 73-68 with 3:30 left.

"When you shoot a lot of threes like they do, you can either shoot your way out of a game or shoot your way back into it," Curfman said. "We made our runs throughout the game, but they were always able to claw their way back into it."

A shot clock violation by BSU in the final minute gave Mayville State an opportunity to tie the game, as they trailed 81-78 with 30 seconds remaining. Hailey Longtin's game-tying three-point attempt missed, but Liza Hoglo was able to grab the offensive rebound and get the put-back to cut the deficit to one point with eight seconds left.

The Comets fouled Warmack, who made the first of her two free throws, but Jessie Althoff pulled down the offensive rebound and sealed the victory with two free throws of her own. She was perfect in six tries at the charity stripe on the night.

Warmack tallied a career-high 17 rebounds, eight on the offensive end, along with 14 points for a double-double.

"As a post, it is my job to rebound," Warmack said. "My offensive game was not there in the first half, so I really wanted to grab the rebounds to help spark the team in any way I could."

"There are going to be some games where the shot just is not going down," Curfman said of his center. "We just told her to keep getting looks and they would start falling. She found other ways to contribute when the shots were not going in and that is what you need to do."

Even with the fast pace, the Beavers were able to limit their turnovers to just ten, while forcing 25.

"Our guard play was very good," Curfman said. "With that many possessions, ten turnovers is a pretty good number."

Lee led all scorers with 27 points. She is now just 45 points away from being the 16th player in school history to reach 1,000 points.

Bemidji State (1-0) will play a pair of games in Colorado Springs, Colo. this weekend before returning home next Tuesday to host Finlandia. Friday's game against UC-Colorado Springs will begin at 8:30 p.m.

Mayville State 80

McMillan 17 5-8 6-8, Tauer 11 4-9 0-0, Longtin 11 4-13, 1-4, Hoglo 11 5-9 1-5, Rude 9 3-7 0-0, Henrickson 8 3-5 0-0, Blair 6 3-7 0-0, Heier 4 2-7 0-0, Kassube 3 1-3 1-2. Totals 80 30-70 9-19.

Bemidji State 84

Lee 27 10-23 4-4, Zerr 15 7-14 0-0, Warmack 14 5-15 4-6, Althoff 12 3-13 6-6, Sheley 6 2-7 1-2, Cordes 4 2-6 0-2, Reichert 4 1-8 2-3, Miller 2 1-1 0-0. Totals 84 31-87 17-23.

Halftime: Bemidji State 39, Mayville State 38