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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Freshman Brayden Williams delivers winner for Bemidji State

With a heel on the midcourt logo, Brayden Williams pulled up for a game-changing 3-pointer on Tuesday night against Minnesota Crookston at the BSU Gymnasium. Once his long-range shot hit nothing but net inside the final two minutes, the Beavers never trailed again.

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Bemidji State freshman Brayden Williams (4) looks to score during the first half against Minnesota Crookston on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- With the game tied and a big-time shot in high demand, the Bemidji State men’s basketball team turned to a freshman.

“It’s something I did a lot in high school, working off a ball screen and shooting threes,” rookie guard Brayden Williams said. “It was kind of going back to my high school days. He went under the screen, I saw it, and I hit the shot.”

With a heel on the midcourt logo, Williams pulled up for a game-changing 3-pointer on Tuesday night against Minnesota Crookston at the BSU Gymnasium. Once his long-range shot hit nothing but net inside the final two minutes, the Beavers never trailed again en route to a 79-74 win.

“Brayden Williams is a freshman getting thrown into the fire. I just like the composure of our (young) guys,” head coach Mike Boschee said. “We’ve handled some adversity really well this year.”

Williams added a pair of free throws the next time down for Bemidji State, and then Mohamed Kone went 5-for-6 from the charity stripe down the stretch as BSU separated with a 10-2 run that sealed the win.

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“I’d say free throws are probably the biggest part of the game,” Williams said. “They’re such an important part.”

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Bemidji State freshman Brayden Williams (4) makes it to the line during the second half against Minnesota Crookston on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Not many true freshmen have cracked the rotation for BSU under Boschee, but Williams is an exception to the rule this year -- in large part to his upbringing.

“He’s a coach’s kid. He understands what it takes to be successful,” Boschee said. “He plays with composure, plays with understanding, and his future is certainly bright.”

Yet it wasn’t all smooth sailing on Tuesday.

The Beavers (4-1, 1-0 NSIC) built a double-digit lead at 27-16 when John Sutherland flushed a two-handed dunk midway through the first half. But the Golden Eagles (0-5, 0-1 NSIC) punched back, reeling off an 11-2 run shortly thereafter and assuming a 38-35 edge.

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Bemidji State junior John Sutherland (23) lays the ball in during the first half against Minnesota Crookston on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Williams hit a crafty floater in the lane and Colton Roderick followed with a 3-pointer, helping BSU manage a 40-40 tie by halftime.

After the break, it got worse before it got better.

Dezmond Washington broke loose for a breakaway dunk, capping a 7-0 run and giving UMC a 49-44 lead. Minnesota Crookston held a 67-64 edge with under four minutes to go, but Dalton Albrecht scored in the paint and then Kone banked in a three for a 69-67 Bemidji State advantage.

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Marcus Thompson answered for the Golden Eagles, creating a 69-69 draw, but then Williams drained his way-deep triple to start the beginning of the end.

“We did a good job of fighting even though we got down,” Williams said. “We fought some adversity. … We knocked down shots to keep us in the game.”

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Bemidji State junior Dalton Albrecht (0) spins baseline to score during the first half against Minnesota Crookston on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer
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Bemidji State fifth-year Mohamed Kone (3) drives the lane for a layup during the second half against Minnesota Crookston on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

It wasn’t just Williams who delivered on Tuesday, though. All five starters finished in double figures, none more than Albrecht’s 19 points. Kone pitched in 18, Sutherland 15, Brandon Christlieb 11 and Williams 10.

“(Kone) stepped up at the end, made some free throws and had a couple big layups,” Boschee said. “John and Dalton were beasts most of the night. A lot of good play from a lot of guys, so I’m very happy to get the W.”

BSU will resume its NSIC slate with a 7:30 p.m. tipoff at St. Cloud State on Thursday, Dec. 1, in St. Cloud.

Bemidji State 79, Minnesota Crookston 74

UMC 40 34 -- 74

BSU 40 39 -- 79

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MINNESOTA CROOKSTON -- Sagna 22, Washington 16, Jones 8, Badyal 7, Mitchell 6, Hughes 4, Rossi 4, Thompson 4, Allman 3. Totals: 33-67 FGs, 6-20 3-pt. FGs, 2-2 FTs.

BEMIDJI STATE -- Albrecht 19, Kone 18, Sutherland 15, Christlieb 11, Williams 10, Lowman 3, Roderick 3. Totals: 31-62 FGs, 6-22 3-pt. FGs, 11-18 FTs.

112622.S.BP.BSUMBB Brandon Christlieb.jpg
Bemidji State sophomore Brandon Christlieb (11) drives to the lane for a layup during the first half against Minnesota Crookston on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.
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