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Men's basketball: First-place Beavers happy to begin homestand

BEMIDJI — The Bemidji State men’s basketball players and coaches could not have asked for a better time to return home.

Last weekend, the Beavers split on the road, defeating Southwest Minnesota State and losing at Sioux Falls.

The weekend was the second straight on the road and now BSU will look forward to a pair of weekends at home.

“Home court advantage is definitely something you want to have,” senior forward Zach Noreen said. “It is good timing for a couple weeks at home because we have some big games in this stretch that can be statement games.”

“Being on the road is tough and wears on you,” BSU head coach Mike Boschee added. “It is nice to be home and get back in a routine that we are more comfortable with. It will be nice to play in front of a crowd that is backing us.”

The Saturday loss at Sioux Falls snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Beavers.

“Overall I am satisfied with (last) weekend,” Boschee said. “Southwest is tough to beat at home and we played well in most facets of the game and were unable to pull away at the end. In Sioux Falls, we got behind the eight-ball at the end of the first half, but they have proven to be a quality team and they were able to hold us off.”

Despite just a .500 record in the NSIC, Sioux Falls has been nearly unbeatable at home this season with wins over MSU Moorhead, SMSU and Winona State.

“You cannot take any team for granted,” Noreen said. “We had to give our best effort to beat Southwest and Sioux Falls is just an unreal team at home. They came out firing and it was hard to battle through that.”

This weekend the Beavers turn their attention to Minot State and University of Mary. This weekend’s contests come just two weeks after a weekend sweep over the two teams on Jan. 24-25.

Both the Marauders and the Beavers (Minot State) kept the game close but BSU pulled away in the final five minutes of each game.

“I expect two really good games,” Boschee said. “Both teams played us tough in their gyms and it will be tough. They are both right on the cusp of winning, despite not winning many games this season.”

Noreen shared similar thoughts on what to expect from the opponents.

“It was not easy at all on their courts,” Noreen said. “I don’t think this weekend will be any different. They will be close games until the buzzer sounds.”

Despite being atop the NSIC North Division, the Beavers remain hungry to prove that they belong in the discussion about the best teams in the conference.

“We do not really think of ourselves as a target,” Noreen said. “We were picked low before the season and we still feel like we have to prove ourselves every time we go out there.”

BSU (15-5, 12-4 NSIC) will look to get back in the win column 8 p.m. Friday against Minot State before entertaining U-Mary 6 p.m. Saturday.