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MEN'S BASKETBALL: Wayne State upsets BSU in first round of NSIC tournament

Bemidji State guard Michael Farrington goes inside for an uncontested layup Wednesday evening against Wayne State. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
Bemidji State forward Maxie Rosenbloom, left, takes a low feed and goes up for two against Wayne State defender Patrick Kurth during their first-round NSIC playoff game Wedensday night at the BSU Gym. Wayne upset the Beavers 78-66. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 2

BEMIDJI — For Wayne State guard Tyler Bauschek and his fellow seniors, two was enough.

The Wildcats saw their season end at the BSU Gym in each of the last two seasons, but Wednesday they snapped an 11-game losing skid with an 88-76 win over BSU in the opening round of the NSIC tournament.

“That locker room is the same one we have been in the last two years having our postseason talk,” Bauschek said. “It is a big win for the program and for us seniors.”

BSU head coach Mike Boschee was not surprised by the fight of the No. 7 seeded team in the South division, who turned the tables with a crucial 19-0 run early in the second half.

“They are a good team with some good players and it showed tonight,” Boschee said. “Sometimes during the season you get in a funk and cannot seem to win, but they played really inspired basketball tonight.”

BSU ends the season with a 19-8 record, while Wayne State (9-18) will advance to NSIC quarterfinal action this weekend in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The Beavers entered last weekend with a two-game lead in the NSIC North division, but a three-game losing skid has sent them spiraling away from a potential NCAA tournament berth.

“Losing at St. Cloud and Duluth does not bother me as much because a lot of teams do it,” Boschee said. “Losing a home playoff game is certainly tough to take.”

The Beavers led 43-38 at halftime thanks in part to junior Brock Lutes’ 14 first-half points, but the Wildcats came alive in the second.

Lutes got the first bucket of the second half, but Adol Aluong and Bauschek each provided three-pointers to help fuel a 19-0 run over a span of 4:16 to vault the Wildcats to a double-digit lead at 57-45.

“We had some pretty good looks in there too,” Boschee said. “I feel like some of our shots were more open than theirs were, but they were making plays when they had to. That is funny thing about basketball, sometimes things go your way and sometimes it doesn’t.”

The Wayne State lead grew to as large as 15 points at 64-49 with 12:30 left to play.

“We talked about playing better defense at halftime,” Wayne State head coach Brian Dolan said. “We wanted to create offense with our defense and we were able to do that in the second half.”

Over the next eight minutes of play, the Beavers cut the deficit to single digits five times, but each time the Wildcats answered with a basket of their own to protect the lead.

BSU caught a huge momentum swing with 2:02 left in the game when Lutes converted a three-point play and Zach Noreen drew a foul to earn two free throws of his own that trimmed the deficit down to six points at 80-74.

But That was the closest the Beavers would get, as the Wildcats finished the game on an 8-2 run.

Bauschek scored 20 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, while Ryan Rolfzen finished with 23 points.

Bauschek credited Rolfzen with helping keep Wayne in the game in the first half. Rolfzen scored 16 of the team’s first 23 points with four connections from long distance.

“He can shoot 3s with the best of them and has no conscience,” Bauschek said. “He really got us going early on.”

While the two teams posted nearly identical shooting numbers in the first half, BSU found an advantage inside the paint, where it out-scored WSC 26-10.

“We knew if we did not get it going in the second half we were done,” Bauschek said. “We had a feeling if we played our best game of the year we could win.”

The Wildcats had lost 10 straight games before Wednesday’s game.

Now they have the chance to play a few more. They’ll take on Southwest Minnesota State Sunday night in Sioux Falls.

“We have had a rough ten games, but the kids have hung in there,” Dolan said. “They kept learning our system and never gave up. They could have quit a month ago, but they hung in there.”

Lutes led BSU with 22 points, while Noreen added 17 points, and Maxie Rosenbloom posted a double-double with 13 points and a dozen rebounds.

Wayne State 88, BSU 76 Wayne State (88) — Bauschek 11-16 0-0 27; Rolfzen 8-18 2-2 23; Bartling 6-6 7-7 19; Aluong 5-14 3-6 15; Finco 1-2 0-0 2; Kurth 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 32-58 12-17 88.

BSU (76) — Lutes 7-16 6-7 22; Noreen 6-15 5-5 17; Rosenbloom 6-9 0-2 12; Hervy 2-2 4-4 8; Schalow 2-7 2-2 8; Farrington 3-5 2-4 8. Totals 26-55 19-24 76.

Halftime score: BSU 43, Wayne State 38