BEMIDJI -- When Derek Thompson scored his 45th point on Saturday, he had no idea that he was the first Bemidji State men’s basketball player to do it. Ever.
“I didn’t think breaking the record was even in the picture,” Thompson said. “But then after the game, somebody said it.”
So, who told him?
“I have no idea,” he laughed.
Even if he can’t remember that minor detail during a hurricane of emotions, Thompson certainly won’t forget what he had accomplished just prior. The senior forward fueled a 109-85 win over Minnesota Crookston at the BSU Gymnasium by breaking Charles Hanks’ single-game scoring record of 44 that had stood for 18 years.
In 2,218 games in program history, Thompson’s performance was a first. An unprecedented, entertaining, downright dominant first.
“I’m really giving all the credit to God and my dad and Kade (Hart) up in heaven,” Thompson said of his late father and best friend. “I started the season off with a career high and ended it with the same, so it’s a pretty cool feeling.”
Thompson eclipsed his previous collegiate best of 33 midway through the second half. That came after 26 first-half points in which he also scored 15 straight Beaver points -- turning a 36-all tie into a 51-43 lead late in the opening frame.
“We knew we had matchup advantages inside,” Bemidji State head coach Mike Boschee said. “But you’ve got to be good in order for a coach to go to you a lot. We went to him a lot. The guys did a great job passing it and looking for his opportunities. … All in all, it was a good team way to get your 45, that’s for sure.”
Although he only had three points with nearly eight minutes gone, Thompson put up 41 in the game’s final 32:03. He did so on 17-for-24 shooting, including a 5-of-6 clip from deep, and a 6-for-6 mark at the free-throw line. Making 17 field goals also ties a program record.
“What’s impressive to me is that he had 45 points, yeah, but a lot of guys can get 45 points with a ton of shots,” Boschee said. “He only had 24 shots to get that 45, and that’s really good stuff.”
Thompson was an artist in the paint all afternoon, turning post touches into smooth hook shots that nearly all dropped. And when he stepped out to the perimeter, he was even more lethal. That’s the spot where he broke the scoring record, rolling off a screen for Mohamed Kone, jab-stepping, and pulling up for the 3-pointer with 3:27 left in the game.
Forty. Five.— Micah Friez (@micahfriez) February 20, 2021
Derek Thompson breaks Bemidji State’s single-game scoring record with his 45th point of the afternoon. Charles Hanks’ previous program record had stood for 18 years. What a day Thompson is having. pic.twitter.com/QYpubdUymR
Even when you break a program record, you’re never too cool for a hug from your mom. pic.twitter.com/efJSaNFI8Q— Micah Friez (@micahfriez) February 20, 2021
That shot also put the Beavers over 100 on the afternoon, as the offense was firing on all cylinders from start to finish. The defense allowed the Golden Eagles (2-14, 1-13 NSIC North) to hang around for a while, but Bemidji State trusted the process and separated in no time.
“That’s pretty much all it is,” Thompson said. “We were kind of lacking on defense and we were able to turn it up right at the beginning of the second half. We got (the lead) up to about 20 points, then rolled with that lead the rest of the way.”
Within five minutes of the second half, BSU had a 75-54 lead. A porous defense allowed UMC to keep scoring at will, but Thompson swept up all attention as he orchestrated the blowout effort.
“It’s a good, fun game to end the season with,” Thompson said. “Obviously, we wish we were going to the playoffs. We’re still going to prepare a little bit next week in case somebody tests positive for COVID.”
BSU finishes the season 7-9 overall and 6-8 in NSIC North play, good enough for fifth place in the North Division.
Nick Wagner also scored 20 points for BSU, while Dalton Albrecht hit 13. Senior Griffin Chase posted eight points and six rebounds in his final collegiate game.
Thompson will return to the team next season thanks to an NCAA eligibility waiver in response to the pandemic. And now he’ll have a program record to bring with him.
“It feels pretty cool,” Thompson said of setting the scoring record. “I don’t really know how to explain it. It doesn’t feel real.”
Bemidji State 109, Minnesota Crookston 85
UMC 48 37 -- 85
BSU 56 53 -- 109
MINNESOTA CROOKSTON (2-14, 1-13 NSIC) -- Dilling 28, Westphal 11, Blaj-Voinescu 9, Dixon 9, Darwiche 7, Winterfeldt 7, Carter 3, James 3, Jassey-Demba 3, Lyman 2, Xia 2, Reeck 1, Carton 0. Totals: 30-66 FGs, 15-22 FTs, 85.
BEMIDJI STATE (7-9, 6-8 NSIC) -- Thompson 45, Wagner 20, Albrecht 13, Landwehr 9, Chase 8, Kone 8, Behrendt 2, Casper 2, Senske 2, Kaufmanis 0, Olizia 0, Olson 0. Totals: 42-67 FGs, 15-16 FTs, 109.