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MEN'S BASKETBALL: Beavers fighting for playoff fate

BEMIDJI -- It’s time to buckle up and bunker down for the Bemidji State men’s basketball team.

The Beavers (10-15, 8-12 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) control their own destiny heading into the final weekend of the regular season -- it’s either sweep at home, or hit the road.

“I expect great games,” BSU head coach Mike Boschee said. “I’m excited that we’re in this position. I think anytime that you put yourself in position to get home-court advantage, you’ve been doing something well.”

Bemidji State is hosting U-Mary and Minot State this weekend, and all three are battling for the fourth spot in the NSIC North division standings. The team that comes out on top will host at home for the first round of the conference tournament, while the fifth and sixth seeds will have to travel for their playoff matchups.

“I’m expecting both teams to play really hard, because we’re (all) playing for something big,” freshman guard Jai’Vionne Green said. “It’s gonna be a battle, and I think we’re prepared for it.”

With both games being must-wins for the Beavers in order to clinch the four seed, BSU will take all the help it can get for its biggest weekend in recent memory.

“The excitement that you’re able to draw from crowds that are on your side, the energy, the enthusiasm, it plays a big part (in having success). Hopefully we can get some of that,” said Boschee. “We can draw from any kind of excitement that our fans are willing to provide, and hopefully our fans will be into it and ready to go this weekend.”

The series begins at 8 p.m. tonight when Bemidji State hosts U-Mary, who holds the four-spot heading into the weekend. BSU’s game against Minot State will follow at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, as both teams are currently a game back of the Marauders. If a sweep doesn’t guarantee the Beavers sole possession of fourth place, owning the tiebreakers will do the trick in securing a conference tournament game at home.

“Considering where we were a month ago to where we are now, I’m ecstatic we’re in this position,” said Boschee of BSU’s 1-7 conference start, which had them last in the division. “Nothing’s still changing for us… We gotta play well in back-to-back games.”

A pair of wins will give Bemidji State its first playoff home-court advantage since 2013-14. But anything else will put the Beavers on the road for the first round of the conference tournament -- a scenario which hasn’t seen BSU victorious in 32 years.

So in this weekend’s must-win matchups, Bemidji State knows what to expect.

“We still gotta battle,” said Green. “It’s not gonna be given to us. We gotta go get it.”

Micah Friez

Micah Friez is a sports reporter for the Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, he is currently studying Creative and Professional Writing at Bemidji State. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.

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