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WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Beavers beat SMSU behind defense, hot 3rd quarter

Despite plenty of pressure mounting in the final moments, the Beavers played with veteran poise and calmly collected a 70-67 victory over Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday in Marshall.

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Bemidji State Beavers
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MARSHALL -- The Bemidji State women’s basketball team wasn’t going to let that one slip away from them.

Despite plenty of pressure mounting in the final moments, the Beavers played with veteran poise and calmly collected a 70-67 victory over Southwest Minnesota State on Saturday in Marshall.

BSU earned the win behind a strong defensive effort for much of the game and a third quarter in which they outscored SMSU 24-10.

The second half was a major contrast to how the first half played out. Bemidji State (10-7, 8-5 NSIC) shot just 8-for-28 and committed 12 turnovers, mustering just 21 points in the opening 20 minutes.

That resulted in a 26-21 deficit, but the offense came alive in the third quarter.

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The Beavers jumped into the lead with an 8-0 run to start the frame, highlighted by Coley Rezabek’s game-tying 3-pointer and Taylor Vold’s go-ahead layup the next time down.

Soon after, Rachael Heittola’s and-one layup, Trinity Yoder’s free throws and Brooklyn Bachmann’s fast-break layup combined for a 7-0 burst to close the quarter.

BSU carried a 45-36 lead into the fourth. The difference held at 59-50 with three minutes remaining, but then the Mustangs (9-7, 6-6 NSIC) began a furious comeback with an offense that suddenly roared to life.

Southwest Minnesota State shot 5-for-6 to come within 69-67, a 2:37 stretch that included three 3-pointers, two layups and a 4-for-4 clip at the free-throw line.

SMSU even got the ball back with 13.1 seconds to go, but Abuk Akoi couldn’t convert a screen-and-roll layup with Heittola defending. Bachmann secured the defensive rebound and finished the game for Bemidji State at the charity stripe.

Heittola racked up a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds. Her fourth double-double of the year is the most in a single season for a Beaver since Kate Warmack had 13 in 2013-14.

Yoder continued to flirt with a triple-double, recording nine points, eight rebounds and nine assists. Rezabek (15) and Bachmann (11) also reached double-digit points for BSU.

Sadie Stelter tallied 19 for SMSU, while Meleah Reinhart added 18 of her own.

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Bemidji State next returns to the BSU Gymnasium for a four-game homestand. It begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28, against Augustana.

Bemidji State 70, Southwest MN State 67

BSU 10 11 24 25 -- 70

SMSU 9 17 10 31 -- 67

BEMIDJI STATE (10-7, 8-5 NSIC) -- Heittola 21, Rezabek 15, Bachmann 11, Yoder 9, Vold 8, Wolhowe 3, Zerr 3. Totals: 24-52 FGs, 6-21 3-pt. FGs, 16-25 FTs.

SOUTHWEST MN STATE (9-7, 6-6 NSIC) -- Stelter 19, Reinhart 18, Akoi 12, Wall 9, Stoltzman 4, Borchers 3, Baxter 2. Totals: 22-67 FGs, 5-17 3-pt. FGs, 18-18 FTs.

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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