MEN’S BASKETBALL: BSU hits SCSU early, cruises to blowout win
BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State men’s basketball team started Friday night on a tear and never looked back.
The Beavers steamrolled out to a 17-2 lead within six minutes, setting the tone for a wire-to-wire, 86-65 win over St. Cloud State at the BSU Gymnasium.
“We brought the energy right away,” junior Derek Thompson said. “Everybody was running up and down, playing D, getting steals, running the floor. And 17-2, that was a great start to the game. Obviously it carried out throughout the whole time.”
In a gotta-have-it kind of game, the Beavers delivered in a big way.
“This time of year, all your guys have to play at a really high level or you can’t move on,” Bemidji State head coach Mike Boschee said. “Obviously we’ve got one more regular season game, and we’re excited for that… but we’ve got to continue to try to build and to play consistent, really good basketball.”
With the win, the Beavers (13-12, 10-11 NSIC) rose to fourth in the North Division and can bring the No. 4 seed into the postseason with a win or an SCSU loss on Saturday.
The only drama for BSU fans on Friday night played out 350 miles away, where Augustana survived Sioux Falls 65-62. The result officially puts Bemidji State on the road to open the postseason.
But the team’s mantra has been controlling what it can, and the Beavers certainly did so in their own building.
BSU came to play, holding SCSU to a 1-for-10 start from the field for the quick 15-point cushion. Thompson had the hot hand, going off for 15 points by the time Bemidji State built a roaring 25-8 advantage.
“I was finishing around the rim mostly,” Thompson said. “But I credit that all to my teammates. They were passing me the ball right on target. I was able to finish, and it was perfect.”
The Huskies (13-14, 10-11 NSIC) finally settled in, but that didn’t stop BSU from continuing to pull away. Ja Morgan facilitated the offensive efforts, and he found Griffin Chase for a corner 3-pointer on the last possession for a 47-24 game at the break.
“Ja had a major part in that,” Boschee said of the start. “He had nine of his 11 assists in the first half, and a lot of them were to Derek. He was finding shooters, as well. (And) defensively, we were really good. … This time of year, our defense has got to be strong.”
The Beavers had St. Cloud State doubled up at 52-26 early in the second half, and nothing dramatic was about to happen from then on. Both sides lulled into a long stretch where Bemidji State didn’t pile onto its lead and SCSU didn’t put a dent into the deficit.
“We never want to be OK with a lull like that,” Thompson said. “They do happen, but we like to limit that as much as possible. We did that tonight, but tomorrow night (against Minnesota Duluth), we’re going to need a full 40 minutes. We’re not going to be allowed to have that lull.”
Thompson finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds in the 21-point blowout. Max Bjorklund added 20 points, while Nick Wagner (14) and Logan Bader (10) also hit double digits. Morgan finished with nine points and 11 assists, and his 256 career dimes have boosted him to No. 5 on the program’s all-time leaderboard in just 41 games played.
The regular season wraps up at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, against UMD at the BSU Gymnasium. The team will honor its two seniors, Bader and Morgan, plus redshirt junior Zach Baumgartner and student assistant Peyton Dibble for Senior Day.
Bemidji State 86, St. Cloud State 65
SCSU 24 41 -- 65
BSU 47 39 -- 86
ST. CLOUD STATE (13-14, 10-11 NSIC) -- Marshall 27, Donaldson 12, Mussman 9, Roberts 5, Ehrnvall 4, Adelman 3, Marsh 3, Tyrtyshnik 2, Giestler 0, Schuemer 0. Totals 25-64, 10-13, 65.
BEMIDJI STATE (13-12, 10-11 NSIC) -- Thompson 24, Bjorklund 20, Wagner 14, Bader 10, Morgan 9, Chase 5, Baumgartner 2, Landwehr 2, Olizia 0. Totals 28-58, 19-23, 86.