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Bemidji State basketball teams home for NSIC weekend games against Winona State, Upper Iowa

If a potential recruit wants to know more about the strength and reputation of the NSIC, Bemidji State University men's basketball coach Matt Bown knows which name to drop.

"When I go around the country and explain the league I mention that Winona is one of our members," Bowen said. "Winona is the benchmark of our entire league and mentioning Winona rings a bell with everybody. For the last seven to 10 years Winona has had a target on its back because it is a very good and very successful program."

Today at 8 p.m. the Beavers will have the opportunity to hit that target as the two teams battle in the second half of the women's/men's doubleheader. Saturday BSU will also be home as the women take on Upper Iowa at 4 p.m. and the men follow at 6 p.m.

A year ago Winona lost seven games during the season and two of them were at the hands of the Beavers. BSU downed the Warriors 88-87 in overtime in Winona early in the year and followed that victory with an 88-86 win in Bemidji.

"We played very hard in both of those games and were fortunate to shoot very well," Bowen said. "When you shoot well it covers mistakes."

The Beavers enter tonight's action with a 4-2 record (1-1 NSIC) while Winona is 5-0 (1-0 NSIC). The Warriors also are ranked third in the national NCAA II poll.

"This will be a good early-season opportunity for us to see where we are at," Bowen said. "There are 22 league games and we have the first four at home so this is a chance for us to get going. But it's not a must-win by any means."

Last weekend Bemidji State dropped a 60-58 decision to Moorhead and followed that contest with an 88-63 drubbing of Crookston. Those games were also at BSU.

"Against Moorhead we beat ourselves," Bowen said. "We were very lethargic. In the Crookston game we played easier, harder and looser. We played what I hope is a more typical performance.

"The formula in this league is to hold the home court and steal a few wins on the road," Bowen continued. "But this early in the year I'm not as concerned about results as I am performance. I want us to play good, solid basketball and if we do that we'll win many more games than we will lose."

Upper Iowa enters the weekend 1-4 and is 0-1 in the conference, losing last week to Winona 78-61. The win came at the expense of Valley City (88-59).

The women's team begins tonight's twinbill with a 6 p.m. game against the Warriors. BSU will take a 2-5 record into the contest after belting Scholastica 83-31 Tuesday. BSU is 0-2 in conference play after losing one-sided decisions to Moorhead and Crookston last weekend.

Winona is 5-0 and defeated Upper Iowa 89-58 in its lone league game.

Last winter the Beavers defeated Winona 79-69 on the road but lost to the Warriors 78-67 in Bemidji.

Upper Iowa is struggling this winter and began the weekend 0-5.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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