MEN’S BASKETBALL: Bemidji State pulls off dramatic 62-59 win

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men's basketball team pulled off a last-minute comeback to top Winona State on Sunday, finishing down to the wire for a 62-59 win from the BSU Gymnasium.

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Bemidji State Beavers

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men’s basketball team pulled off a last-minute comeback to top Winona State on Sunday, finishing down to the wire for a 62-59 win from the BSU Gymnasium.

“I like the group. I like the group’s grit,” BSU head coach Mike Boschee told the Beaver Radio Network. “I like our toughness right now. We’ve just got to continue to grind.”

Mason Domask put the Warriors (8-6, 3-5 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) in a 59-58 lead with 52 seconds to play with a 3-pointer. But the Beavers (6-7, 3-5 NSIC) answered back 30 seconds later as Sharif Black zipped a pass through traffic to Derek Thompson, and Thompson finished inside for a 60-59 BSU lead.

From there, Black sunk a pair of free throws, and a game-tying three at the buzzer for Winona State rimmed out -- making for a three-point Beavers win.

Despite having to come from behind late, however, Bemidji State led for the majority of the first half. A three from Logan Bader stretched the BSU advantage to 35-26 late in the first, and -- after weathering a 7-0 WSU run -- the Beavers took a 40-36 lead into the break behind nine makes from downtown.


The second half tightened up, and Winona State grabbed a 48-44 lead through a 12-4 start to the final period. The last bucket, a three from Corey Jeffs, ended a four-minute scoreless drought for both teams. Though the Bemidji State offense wasn’t clicking, the defense kept the game manageable.

“In the second half, again, we ran into one of those spells again where we just could not score,” Boschee said. “I think our defense just kept the game close enough where, when we got back on track a little bit, we could reel them back in and get a victory. So that was huge.”

Christian Pekarek sunk a pair of 3-pointers for BSU to end the drought, the latter tying the game at 50-all to set up a seesaw finish.

The lead changed hands five times within the final eight minutes, but the Beavers had the final say. Black’s rifle of a pass set up Thompson to score the game-winner from the block, and Bemidji State held at game’s end for the 62-59 victory.

“I think the defense saved us tonight,” Boschee said. “We did play play pretty good offensively in the first half, and pretty good defense, as well.”

Black led all scorers with 15 points, also coming away with five rebounds and six assists. Pekarek added 12 points, and Thompson hit double-digits with 10.

The Warriors were paced by Taylor Kevion’s 13 points off the bench, while Domask finished with 11.

The win sets up BSU for its next matchup -- an 8 p.m. game at St. Cloud State on Friday, Jan. 5 -- where the Beavers will shoot for their 1,000th win in program history.


Bemidji State 62, Winona State 59

WSU 36 23 -- 59

BSU 40 22 -- 62

Winona State (8-6, 3-5 NSIC) -- Taylor 13, Domask 11, Gathje 9, Koontz 7, Wagner 7, Jeffs 5, Easaw 3, Flack 3, Whitelow 1. Totals 21-62 10-17 59.

Bemidji State (6-7, 3-5 NSIC) -- Black 15, Pekarek 12, Thompson 10, Green 8, Bader 7, McNallan 6, Baumgartner 4, Chase 0. Totals 22-48 7-16 62.

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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