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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Frontcourt shortage denies Bemidji State’s upset bid in 83-68 loss

In a span of two minutes, and late in a serious upset bid against Minnesota Duluth, the Beavers lost forward Dalton Albrecht to fouls and forward John Sutherland to injury.

120722.S.BP.BSUMBB John Sutherland.jpg
Bemidji State junior John Sutherland (23) makes a layup during the first half against Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men’s basketball team got real small real fast on Saturday.

In a span of two minutes, and late in a serious upset bid against Minnesota Duluth at the BSU Gymnasium, the Beavers lost forward Dalton Albrecht to fouls and forward John Sutherland to injury.

“It’s super difficult,” Sutherland said. “They have two big (posts) too, obviously. … We didn’t have a lot of size left.”

Bemidji State played five guards down the stretch, but the lineup lacked the inside strength that Albrecht and Sutherland provide. As a result, the Bulldogs pulled away late for an 83-68 victory and left home fans wondering what could have been.

“It made things very challenging,” Bemidji State head coach Mike Boshcee said of losing his starting frontcourt. “We don’t want to (play that small), and we don’t practice it. We’re trying to figure out ways that we can get into our offense… but on the fly, it wasn’t easy, that’s for sure.”

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Bemidji State freshman Johnny Tennyson (21) fights for the ball during the first half against Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

UMD (7-2, 3-0 NSIC) nursed a slim lead for most of the second half, and the Beavers (5-3, 1-2 NSIC) were right there on their heels. Yet the climate of the game shifted dramatically when Sutherland took a spill midway through the second half and injured his right ankle.

Albrecht assumed center duties as Sutherland got his ankle taped, but Albrecht’s foul trouble got worse. Albrecht was whistled for two quick fouls -- including a moving screen for his fifth of the game -- and was relegated to the bench. Sutherland replaced him and gave it a go, but his ankle “just wouldn’t bend very well so I had to come out,” he said.

Sutherland exited with 6:45 remaining and BSU behind 64-57. From that point on, Minnesota Duluth outscored Bemidji State 19-11 and out-rebounded them 7-2.

“I’m really pleased with the effort that the other guys came up with. There were a lot of times we had three freshmen out there,” Boschee said. “Duluth’s just really good. Any mistake you make, or any possession you don’t get a quality shot, it makes it tough.”

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Bemidji State fifth-year Mohamed Kone (3) drives toward the net during the first half against Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Until that point, however, the back-and-forth affair was an entertaining battle as both sides tried to wrestle away control from the other.

The Beavers were balanced in the first half with sources of scoring all over the court. Johnny Tennyson rattled in a three, and Albrecht followed with a tip-in for a quick 5-0 run and a bit of momentum. Later, the lane parted like the Red Sea for Sutherland, who flushed down a two-handed dunk and earned BSU a 35-34 lead.

But the Bulldogs had the final bucket of the first half, going into the break on top 36-35. Bemidji State never led again.

The Beavers still stuck around for most of the night, five times trimming the deficit to a one-score game in the second half. Mohamed Kone heated up for a few key baskets, while Sutherland and Albrecht each scored to restore a two-point game twice more.

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Bemidji State sophomore Brandon Christlieb (11) drives inside for a layup during the first half against Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Albrecht’s layup kept things within 58-56 with nine minutes left, but UMD played poised and never surrendered the advantage. Disaster struck BSU’s big men minutes later, and Minnesota Duluth never looked back.

“I liked the mindset of the guys. They know they can be a good team,” Boschee said. “The effort that they gave, I don’t think there’s anyone out there who doesn’t care or doesn’t try as hard as they possibly can. We just came up a little bit short.”

Kone ended the night with a team-high 21 points, while Sutherland added 14 and Brandon Christlieb 10.

The Bulldogs had four scorers in double figures, none more than the 25 from Charlie Katona and 20 from Drew Blair.

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Bemidji State sophomore Jayce Lowman (20) dribbles with the ball during the first half against Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“We fought super hard,” Sutherland said. “We played really well because we obviously didn’t back down from a highly ranked team. I’m excited to play them again.”

Before a February rematch with UMD, Bemidji State will next face Minnesota State Moorhead at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9, in Moorhead.

Minnesota Duluth 83, Bemidji State 68

UMD 36 47 -- 83

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BSU 35 33 -- 68

MINNESOTA DULUTH -- Katona 25, Blair 20, Strong 17, Andrews 12, Thompson 5, Lea 2, Meister 2. Totals: 27-58 FGs, 6-17 3-pt. FGs, 23-27 FTs.

BEMIDJI STATE -- Kone 21, Sutherland 14, Christlieb 10, Lowman 9, Albrecht 8, Olson 3, Tennyson 3. Totals: 27-59 FGs, 10-24 3-pt. FGs, 4-6 FTs.

120722.S.BP.BSUMBB Brayden Williams.jpg
Bemidji State freshman Brayden Williams (4) moves the ball up the court during the first half against Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Micah Friez is the former sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he worked at the Pioneer from 2015-23 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing.
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