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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Alyssa Hill taking lessons with lumps as UMD trounces Beavers 78-49

UMD's Brooke Olson lived up to her reputation yet again on Saturday, scoring 31 points in three quarters. But she also provided Bemidji State freshman Alyssa Hill an up-close-and-personal look at the kind of force Hill wants to become.

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Bemidji State freshman Alyssa Hill (42) goes for the ball 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 -- Alyssa Hill and the Bemidji State women’s basketball team learned the hard way just how good Brooke Olson still is.

“She’s honestly probably the best player I’ve ever seen and played against,” Hill said.

Minnesota Duluth’s three-time NSIC North Player of the Year lived up to her reputation yet again on Saturday, scoring 31 points in three quarters and powering UMD to a 78-49 win over the Beavers at the BSU Gymnasium.

But Olson also provided Hill an up-close-and-personal look at the kind of force Hill wants to become.

“Defensively, (the way Olson) moves around and doesn’t get stuck behind anybody trying to post her up, I want to learn how to do that,” Hill said. “And her moves offensively, she’s really good at creating space for herself. … There’s a lot I can learn from her.”

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Bemidji State sophomore Jana Swanson (2) defends Minnesota Duluth's Brooke Olson (24) in the paint during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Hill, a freshman post from Negaunee, Mich., has put in the leg work early. She’s started in all seven of Bemidji State’s games this season, and she established an early career high with 14 points on Saturday.

“She’s got a great skill set,” BSU head coach Chelsea Stoltenberg said of Hill. “She’s got really good hands. We just have to do a better job of finding ways to get her the basketball at the right time… but I’m really excited about her future.”

Olson stole the show on Saturday, however. She scored six seconds into the game, which proved to be a quick dose of heavy foreshadowing.

The Bulldogs (6-2, 3-0 NSIC) led 17-11 after a quarter and stretched that to 39-22 by halftime. Defensively, Minnesota Duluth covered up nearly every passing lane and disrupted the Beavers’ flow with a suffocating showcase, often holding Bemidji State (3-4, 0-3 NSIC) without a field goal for minutes at a time.

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Bemidji State sophomore Amme Sheforgen (1) dribbles with the ball during the first half against Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Olson scored UMD’s first 15 points of the second half, and she ripped off a personal 9-0 run to hand the Bulldogs a 52-27 lead. By the end of the third quarter, Olson trailed BSU’s team total by two.

“She’s just a matchup problem,” Stoltenberg said. “She can pick-and-pop and shoot the three, she can go inside, she can go off the bounce. (Her mind) is why she’s so good, too. Her mentality and her IQ of the game is what’s really impressive.”

Hill was thrown into the fire on Saturday, but it’s all part of the learning curve she faces as a piece of the Beavers’ future. She’s replacing all-NSIC center Rachael Heittola, who transferred to Division I Northern Iowa last offseason, so the 6-foot-1 Hill has big shoes to fill.

“I’m really grateful to be here,” Hill said. “(I’ve felt) how much confidence the coaches have in me, so I’m hoping I can reciprocate that and show that I can do what they think I can. It’s also a lot of help to have all these girls here. They cheer me on, they help me out.”

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Bemidji State sophomore Sam Pogatchnik (22) moves the ball up the court during the second half against Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at the BSU Gymnasium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Trinity Yoder led Bemidji State with a team-high 16 points. Outside of Olson’s production, Taya Hakamaki scored 18 points for Minnesota Duluth.

UMD’s 29-point win is also tied for its largest margin of victory over BSU since February 2002.

The Beavers will try to right the ship with a 5:30 p.m. road matchup at Minnesota State Moorhead on Friday, Dec. 9.

Minnesota Duluth 78, Bemidji State 49

UMD 17 22 24 15 -- 78

BSU 11 11 11 16 -- 49

MINNESOTA DULUTH -- Olson 31, Hakamaki 18, Karge 8, Gilbertson 7, Granica 7, Moorjani 4, Thiesen 3. Totals: 32-65 FGs, 9-22 3-pt. FGs, 5-10 FTs.

BEMIDJI STATE -- Yoder 16, Hill 14, Koenig 4, Majewski 3, Schires 3, Oman 2, Pogatchnik 2, Swanson 2, Theis 2, Sheforgen 1. Totals: 17-48 FGs, 5-13 3-pt. FGs, 10-13 FTs.

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The Beavers cheer from the bench 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 State senior Maddie Schires (10) dribbles with the ball 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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