ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- An early run and a late stand propelled the Bemidji State men’s basketball team in the second half of the Eckerd College Classic finale on Saturday, and the Beavers used both for a 72-66 win over the host Tritons in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Both teams had runs in the first half that counteracted each other, resulting in a 29-all tie by halftime.
But early in the second half, BSU (3-2) grabbed the upper hand. Nick Wagner and Griffin Chase each had a layup and a 3-pointer to build a 10-0 run that catapulted Bemidji State in front 42-33.
Eckerd (4-3) came all the way back, ultimately tying the game at 53-53 on Travis Bianco’s authoritative fast-break dunk, but the Beavers never fell behind. Wagner sunk a corner three in response, then added another the next time down, and BSU never looked back.
Derek Thompson made two free throws to cap a 13-4 run in response to Bianco’s dunk, and Bemidji State led 66-57 with 4 minutes, 22 seconds remaining.
The Tritons closed as close as two within the final 24 seconds, but Logan Bader and Ja Morgan each made both of their free throws in foul situations to ice the six-point win from the charity stripe.
Morgan finished with a team-high 21 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists. Bader posted a 12-point, 11-rebound double double, and Wagner poured in all 14 of his points in the second half. Chase hit double digits with 10 points, as well.
Malcolm Whitlow had a game-high 22 points for Eckerd, while Myron Hagins (21) and Bianco (11) also reached double figures.
The Beavers will resume Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play with a 7:30 p.m. game against Northern State on Friday, Dec. 6, in Aberdeen, S.D.
Bemidji State 72, Eckerd 66
BSU 29 43 -- 72
EC 29 37 -- 66
BEMIDJI STATE (3-2) -- Morgan 21, Wagner 14, Bader 12, Chase 10, Thompson 8, Bjorklund 5, Baumgartner 2, Landwehr 0, Olizia 0. Totals 24-59, 11-16, 72.
ECKERD (4-3) -- Whitlow 22, Hagins 21, Bianco 11, Cirillo 7, Stavrev 3, Radoncic 2, Gonzalez 0, Love 0, Williams 0. Totals 21-59, 18-25, 66.