BEMIDJI -- Late in a close game, a basket here or there can swing a night in a permanent direction.
The Bemidji State women’s basketball team witnessed as much Friday night, sentenced with a 87-82 loss to Wayne State at the BSU Gymnasium.
“Every team’s going to have it swing their way, and they’re going to have the ball going their way for a little bit,” junior guard Brooklyn Bachmann said. “We just need to do a better job when the game starts to swing their way and when they start getting baskets. We need to capitalize on stopping that sooner.”
The Beavers protected their lead for much of the night, and even had a 78-76 edge with 3 minutes, 34 seconds to go. But after a 79-all tie with 101 seconds remaining, the Wildcats made plays down the stretch for the decisive separation.
“They were going downhill,” Bemidji State head coach Chelsea DeVille said. “They got that mentality of, ‘Hey, put your head down and go downhill.’ They got to the free-throw line late and finished the battle.”
BSU (4-4, 1-3 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) assumed its first lead at 15-14 on a Bachmann three late in the first quarter. The Beavers held the advantage for the rest of the half, going up by as many as 10 on another Bachmann three at 44-34.
“As a team, we’ve been doing really good at getting in the paint, drawing the defense in and kicking out,” Bachmann said. “For a long time tonight, that was working. We were hitting a lot of threes. We were doing a good job running the offense that we’ve been working on all week.”
The Wildcats (7-2, 3-1 NSIC) kept it close with a modest 7-3 run to close the second quarter at 47-41, and they then tied things at 47-all early in the third. Though Bemidji State never surrendered its lead and entered the final frame in a 60-60 deadlock, Wayne State had the advantage.
“Really, they got the momentum going into halftime. And then we were empty coming out of half,” DeVille said. “We had good shots, but we had to keep the attack-mode mentality, and sometimes I thought we settled for outside shots.”
The teams went blow-for-blow for much of the fourth quarter. The seventh lead change of the frame came on a Trinity Myer dime from the perimeter, zipping a pass through the heart of the WSC defense and hitting Taylor Bray on the opposite block for an open layup.
The bucket produced the 78-76 lead, but it was Bemidji State’s last of the night. Kylie Hammer answered back with an and-one layup, and though Myer drained a free throw for a 79-all tie, Erin Norling restored the Wildcat advantage with another and-one score. WSC went 6-for-7 from the charity stripe in the final minute to ice away the win.
“I think their whole game plan after the first half was to get downhill on us,” Bachmann said. “We couldn’t stop it, and they just continued to do that. It was really hard for us. Obviously they had a few and-ones at the end, and I think that’s kind of what set them apart from us.”
Bray finished with a season-high 21 points on 9-for-11 shooting and eight rebounds, while Bachmann also had new season-bests of 20 points and eight boards. Myer tallied 12 points and a career-high nine assists, and Rachael Heittola added 11 points.
Norling produced a game-high 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats.
Bemidji State is back in action at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, against Augustana at the BSU Gymnasium.
Wayne State 87, Bemidji State 82
WSC 16 25 19 27 — 87
BSU 23 24 13 22 — 82
WAYNE STATE (7-2, 3-1 NSIC) -- Norling 22, Busse 13, Hammer 13, Bongartz 12, Mlinar 11, Ryan 9, Zacharias 7, Akoi 0, Ivester 0, Vesey 0, Wangerin 0. Totals 31-61, 20-23, 87.
BEMIDJI STATE (4-4, 1-3 NSIC) -- Bray 21, Bachmann 20, Myer 12, Heittola 11, Zerr 8, DuBois 4, Gartner 3, Wolhowe 3, Rezabek 0. Totals 31-69, 12-18, 82.