WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Sam Pogatchnik steadies Beavers for season-opening win
The redshirt sophomore guard scored 10 points and dished four assists against Valley City State, helping Bemidji State pull away in the second half for a season-opening win at the BSU Gymnasium.
BEMIDJI – Sam Pogatchnik has been in the Bemidji State women’s basketball program for three years, developing under head coach Chelsea Stoltenberg and a host of experienced players from the Beavers’ 2021-22 squad that finished third in the NSIC North.
Now, with a number of those players graduated, Pogatchnik is looked at as a steadying force – and she was ready to fill that new role on Friday.
The redshirt sophomore guard scored 10 points and dished four assists against Valley City State, helping Bemidji State pull away in the second half for a 60-43 season-opening win at the BSU Gymnasium.
“It's all about the energy, the support we're providing for our underclassmen,” Pogatchnik said. “We have three freshmen getting huge minutes and a lot of people who haven't gotten a lot, so it’s just bringing that energy and confidence in them to (say) we can do this. We have the talent, and we're ready for this year. It's exciting.”
BSU (1-0) started two freshman forwards, Alyssa Hill and Brooke Theis, and the first-game jitters were evident early on. On an icy day outside, both teams struggled to gain traction on the court, and the Beavers took a slim 24-22 lead into halftime.
That changed in the second half, though. Bemidji State deployed a four-out lineup and started to spread the floor, converting five 3-pointers and salting away the game with a 36-21 edge over the final two quarters.
“We did change up, and we went small,” Stoltenberg said. “That helped us defensively, just because we could switch one through four and contain them off the bounce. So that change was definitely better for us. We got the stops, and then that made for easy offense on the other end.”
Pogatchnik was a big part of the second-half attack, scoring six points in the final 20 minutes to round out her efficient 5-for-11 night from the floor.
“I was very impressed with Sam tonight,” Stoltenberg said. “She did all the little things offensively, really stood out positively defensively as well. She played some big minutes, and we had big expectations to utilize her, but I think she exceeded them.”
Despite her poise on Friday, Pogatchnik isn’t immune to the trepidation her younger teammates confronted. She simply harnessed that agitation and translated it into an effective performance.
“I'm nervous as heck out there,” Pogatchnik said. “It's a typical thing. I always have the butterflies, and it goes away with time. But first-game jitters are definitely a thing. So I'm excited for us – we got it out of our system and started playing together and playing good basketball.”
The Vikings (4-2) provided a substantive early test for BSU, and Stoltenberg was encouraged by the way the Beavers asserted control of the game in the deciding half.
“They're one of the top teams all the time in the NAIA,” Stoltenberg said. “They've beaten us before. So you know you're getting a good product. They're four or five games in every time we play them in the beginning of the year, so they're a little ahead of us in that sense. It's really good competition for us every year.”
Trinity Yoder led Bemidji State in scoring with 11 points, trailed by Pogatchnik with 10. Isabel Majewski contributed eight points, while Erin Barrette and Hill each poured in six.
The Beavers return to the court against Mayville State for another nonconference contest at 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 14, back at the BSU Gymnasium.
Bemidji State 60, Valley City State 43
VCSU 10 12 10 11 -- 43
BSU 12 12 22 14 -- 60
VALLEY CITY STATE -- Spacher 7, Torres 7, Dieterle 6, Johnson 6, Negen 6, Dumas 5, Anderson 2, Critchley 2, Roberts 2. Totals: 16-59 FGs, 5-14 3-pt. FGs, 6-13 FTs.
BEMIDJI STATE -- Yoder 11, Pogatchnik 10, Majewski 8, Barrette 6, Hill 6, Sheforgen 5, Schires 4, Theis 4, White 4, Giorgi 2. Totals: 22-61 FGs, 5-24 3-pt. FGs, 11-16 FTs.