MEN’S BASKETBALL: Beavers overcome UMD push, clinch Boschee’s 100th win
BEMIDJI -- As cliche as it may be, the Bemidji State men’s basketball team’s seniors weren’t about to let the Beavers lose on Senior Night.
“You need your seniors to be great in big moments,” BSU head coach Mike Boschee said. “We need those guys to be great. They don’t need to be unbelievable, they just need to do things very, very well. Make intelligent decisions, play really hard, try to make this team play as together as we possibly can.”
On Saturday, Ja Morgan had 23 points and Logan Bader the dagger in Bemidji State’s 83-76 win over Minnesota Duluth at the BSU Gymnasium.
“(I was) playing as hard as I could, doing whatever I could to get the win,” Morgan said. “Everybody wanted to play hard for the seniors, so that’s what we did.”
The game was far too close for comfort, but Bemidji State survived a last-ditch 14-1 run that shrunk its 14-point lead to one within 2 minutes, 2 seconds. Bader ended the flurry with a putback at the rim, ripping the rebound from two defenders and going up for a 79-76 lead with 26.4 seconds left.
Logan Bader, baller.— Micah Friez (@micahfriez) February 23, 2020
Beavs go up three. pic.twitter.com/qkR2kn3nvd
“That was a big play by Bader,” Morgan said. “Crashing the glass is what the coaches always want us to do. He crashed the glass, got the board and got the layup. Big play.”
The icing on the cake was that the win marked Boschee’s 100th at Bemidji State over his eight seasons at the helm.
“Obviously it’s a good feeling,” Boschee said. “More than anything, it’s the players around you. What can your players do for you? We as a coaching staff are trying to do everything we can for the players, put them in position to win. I’m glad we’ve done that 100 times.”
The Bulldogs (20-8,15-7 NSIC) had plans to keep Boschee at 99 right out of the gates. UMD led 14-3 within four minutes, and yet the Beavers (14-12,11-11 NSIC) answered back to tie with a 13-2 run of their own.
Morgan drilled a step-back 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, sending BSU into the break with a 32-29 advantage, and it served as the fuel to kickstart a strong second-half start.
The Beavers had a 7-0 run to jump ahead 43-33 off Derek Thompson’s inside score. Though Brandon Myer (the cousin of BSU women’s basketball sophomore Trinity Myer) became Minnesota Duluth’s all-time leading score at 1,954 points midway through the second half, Morgan stretched the difference to 15 at 63-48 with another three.
The lead held firm at 76-62 with 3:19 to go, but Myer sparked the 14-1 run -- cutting within 77-76 off his transition 3-pointer with 58.2 seconds remaining.
BSU has missed two front ends of bonus free throws, and Myer hits 40 (!!!) with a three that makes it 77-76 Bemidji State.— Micah Friez (@micahfriez) February 23, 2020
Beavers have the ball with 58.2 to play. It’s a current 14-1 Bulldogs run. pic.twitter.com/4mntne6NDe
Bader’s putback followed, however, and the Bulldogs didn’t score again.
“They’ve got players that can make it really difficult for you at any point,” Boschee said. “Obviously we didn’t want to make it as exciting as it was, but we’re thankful that we made some plays down the stretch to get it.”
Thompson complemented Morgan’s team-high 23 points with 21 of his own, and Thompson now sits five shy of 1,000 in his career. Max Bjorklund added 13 points, Nick Wagner 12 and Bader 10.
Myer poured in 40 for the Bulldogs.
Saturday’s win is Bemidji State’s fourth in a row and will send the Beavers into the NSIC Tournament as one of the hotter teams in the league.
“Duluth is a really good team, probably the best team in the conference. So it’s really big,” Morgan said of the win. “We didn’t shy away from the game. … We’re playing the best that we’ve been playing all year.”
BSU earned the No. 4 seed but will be on the road to face No. 5 seed Minnesota State at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, in Mankato.
Bemidji State 83, Minnesota Duluth 76
UMD 29 47 -- 76
BSU 32 51 -- 83
MINNESOTA DULUTH (20-8, 15-7 NSIC) -- Myer 40, Entwisle 10, Illikainen 10, Rohrscheib 6, Gorres 4, Plamann 4, Middleton 2, Olcay 0, Steffen 0. Totals 26-61, 15-17, 76.
BEMIDJI STATE (14-12, 11-11 NSIC) -- Morgan 23, Thompson 21, Bjorklund 13, Wagner 12, Bader 10, Landwehr 4, Chase 0. Totals 27-47, 16-21, 83.