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MEN’S BASKETBALL: Beavers suffer bad 67-57 loss to UMC in NSIC opener

The Bemidji State men’s basketball team suffered a 67-57 defeat at Minnesota Crookston on Tuesday night, a bad loss against the team picked dead last in the NSIC preseason poll.

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Bemidji State Beavers

CROOKSTON -- It’s going to be a long bus ride back to Bemidji.

The Bemidji State men’s basketball team suffered a 67-57 defeat at Minnesota Crookston on Tuesday night, a bad loss against the team picked dead last in the NSIC preseason poll.

The Beavers only scored four points in the final 5:15, shooting 1-for-11 over that stretch for a comeback effort that had much more bark than bite.

BSU (2-1, 0-1 NSIC) was within five at 58-53 when John Sutherland made a jumper with just over five minutes remaining. But the Golden Eagles (2-3, 1-0 NSIC) responded with a 6-0 run while holding Bemidji State without a field goal for the next three and a half minutes.

The Beavers never established the upper hand in the first half, allowing UMC to maintain control. Although Sutherland capped a 9-0 run with an and-one jumper for a 20-18 lead, Minnesota Crookston soon answered with an 11-0 burst to jump ahead 31-22.

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A 33-28 deficit at halftime only grew in the second half. It hit a dozen at 43-31 when Leonard Dixon slammed home a fast-break dunk for the Golden Eagles, then 14 when Dixon’s layup made it 47-33 with 15 minutes to go.

BSU started to chip away from there, getting eight points out of Gare Ewefada as part of an ensuing 11-2 run. That tightened things up within 49-44, and Travis Bianco drained a 3-pointer to make it 51-47 with seven minutes left.

The rally ran out of steam, though, and the UMC defense powered the home team to victory.

Sutherland’s 16 points led Bemidji State, while Ewefada also hit double digits with 12. The offensive struggles were evident in Mohamed Kone’s stat line, as he finished with three points on 1-for-17 shooting.

Dixon powered the Minnesota Crookston cause with 19 points, seven rebounds and five steals, and Uzo Dibiamaka chipped in 13 points.

At halftime, UMC held a ceremony to recognize the naming of its court to Gary Senske Court after its men’s basketball program’s winningest coach. Gary Senske is the grandfather of current BSU junior Steele Senske and former BSU women’s basketball 1,000-point scorer Sierra Senske.

The Beavers will now travel down to St. Petersburg, Fla., for a nonconference Thanksgiving tournament. The two-game set begins against Eckerd College, Bianco’s former team , at noon on Friday, Nov. 26.

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Minnesota Crookston 67, Bemidji State 57

BSU 28 29 --57

UMC 33 34 -- 67

BEMIDJI STATE (2-1, 1-0 NSIC) -- Sutherland 16, Ewefada 12, Bianco 9, Thompson 6, Behrendt 5, Albrecht 4, Kone 3, Landwehr 2. Totals: 22-65 FGs, 6-17 3-pt. FGs, 7-11 FTs.

MINNESOTA CROOKSTON (2-3, 1-0 NSIC) -- Dixon 19, Dibiamaka 13, Channel 9, Sitzmann 9, Westphal 9, Powell 4, Goodridge 2, M. Thompson 2. Totals: 28-65 FGs, 5-18 3-pt. FGs, 6-9 FTs.

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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