BEMIDJI -- The best part of Saturday’s win for the Bemidji State women’s basketball team was that it was nothing surprising.
Of course, the 74-59 victory over Minnesota State Moorhead at the BSU Gymnasium felt pretty darn good. But it was not a groundbreaking feat or a miracle upset. This is the team the Beavers expect to be.
“There’s no doubt we’re prepared and good enough once we step on the court on game day,” head coach Chelsea DeVille said. “That’s what you’re seeing right now. … We’re veteran, we have a lot of talent, so let’s go to work.”
Bemidji State hasn’t experienced much consistent triumph in recent years, let alone enjoyed a winning season since 1995-96. But this group feels different than those of recent memory.
“We want to show everyone who’s watching what we are capable of and what we know we can do,” senior center Taylor Bray said. “Last year, we might have stepped on the court and said, ‘We have nothing to lose, let’s just go out there.’ But this year, we know we have a lot of talent. The girls busted their butts all summer long. It’s been a long time coming.”
Paired with Friday’s 21-point win, BSU has now defeated MSUM in back-to-back games for the first time since 2004.
“It’s pretty convincing,” DeVille said of the team’s talent. “There’s just a calm that we have when we step on the court. We handle ebbs and flows of the game as a mature group, too. You’re seeing it.”
That was evident all day on the hardwood.
A low-scoring start ended in Bemidji State’s favor, as the Beavers (3-1, 2-0 NSIC North) weathered a 9-1 Dragon run and answered back when Brooklyn Bachmann took over. The senior guard scored the final six points of the quarter as part of BSU’s 12-3 closing run for a 19-13 lead.
MSUM (3-3, 2-2 NSIC North) lost all sense of a shooter’s touch in the second, going just 3-for-16 from the field and 0-for-8 from deep. BSU used that to its advantage, fueling an 11-1 run and going into halftime ahead 35-20.
“I’ll give credit to our post defense that made it tougher for Moorhead to score (inside-out),” DeVille said. “We took away their posts as much as we could, and then it’s a little more pressing to score and find good shots.”
The make-or-break moment came in the third quarter, when Minnesota State Moorhead pieced together a 10-2 run and had the game within eight at 44-36.
But the Beavers again showed a poise that’s greatly improved this season. They scored the next seven points and closed the quarter on a 12-2 run for their biggest lead at 56-38.
“Things aren’t always going to go our way. We just have to shrug it off and go get the next play,” Bray said. “That’s what we did there: We let them have their run, and then we regrouped.”
The Dragons never seriously threatened again. BSU led by as many as 24 and eventually won by 15 in a game that wasn’t even that close.
“Honestly, it’s so refreshing and it’s nice,” Bray said of the weekend sweep. “It’s nice to go out there and show everybody else what we’ve been doing and how hard we’ve been grinding.”
Bray and Rachael Heittola shared the team lead with 14 points apiece, while Bachmann had 12 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists alongside 12 points from Trinity Myer.
Sarah Jacobson paced Minnesota State Moorhead with 15 points, but the Dragons finished shooting 30.9% from the floor at 21-for-68.
Bemidji State, now on a three-game winning streak, will next face U-Mary on the road in Bismarck, N.D., on Jan. 22-23. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday.
Bemidji State 74, Minnesota State Moorhead 59
MSUM 13 7 18 21 -- 59
BSU 19 16 21 18 -- 74
MSUM (3-3, 2-2 NSIC) -- Jacobson 15, McKeever 9, Brown 8, Motschenbacher 8, Boom 6, Hay 5, Thompson 3, Tennyson 2, Thuringer 2, Polomny 1, Herbranson 0, Liegel 0, Steichen 0. Totals: 21-68 FGs, 14-21 FTs, 59.
BSU (3-1, 2-0 NSIC) -- Bray 14, Heittola 14, Bachmann 12, Myer 12, Vold 7, Rezabek 6, DuBois 4, Wolhowe 3, Zerr 2, Majewski 0, Wenner 0. Totals: 26-48 FGs, 17-22 FTs, 74.