WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Beavers rock SCSU for 65-62 finish
BEMIDJI -- Caught in the middle of yet another tight game, Rachael Heittola made sure Friday night was no cookie-cutter finish for the Bemidji State women’s basketball team.
“We really came together,” Heittola said. “We were like, ‘We need a basket here, we need a stop here.’ And we ended up getting them when we needed them.”
Behind 23 points and 11 rebounds -- both career highs -- the freshman center owned the court as she and the Beavers orchestrated a dramatic 65-62 win over St. Cloud State at the BSU Gymnasium.
“She’s had a really good two weeks of practice and games. It carried over,” Bemidji State head coach Chelsea DeVille said of Heittola. “We went through her a ton. When she has that mindset, she’s a pretty tough (player to) guard.”
Tied at 60-60 with 60 seconds to go, the Beavers (9-16, 6-15 NSIC) were in an all-too-familiar position. But, unlike the recent trend, BSU didn’t let another one slip away.
“You didn’t see a panic in our kids,” DeVille said. “When we couldn’t score, it didn’t look like we knew that on the other end. We just went back to work. Again, it was a calm and cool (effort) with some grit in our team today.”
Trinity Myer drove in for the go-ahead layup with 41 seconds left, and then Brooklyn Bachmann intercepted a pass the next time down for a fast-break layup with 29 ticks to go.
Myer followed with another steal and then a defensive rebound, but she went 0-for-4 from the free-throw line to give St. Cloud State a glimmer of hope. Nonetheless, Heittola tacked on a free throw after Madelin Dammann’s fadeaway jumper cut it within two, and the Huskies didn’t have the game-tying answer before time ran out.
“We really encouraged each other, especially on defense,” Heittola said. “We need stops in tight games like this. We really came together as a team, and we played a full game.”
The Huskies (19-6, 16-5 NSIC) assumed a 19-14 lead after the opening quarter, but BSU played with purpose in the second frame.
The Beavers opened on a 7-0 run to take back the lead on Heittola’s inside score. Even though SCSU grabbed a 27-23 advantage midway through the frame, Bemidji State closed on a 9-2 run to enter halftime with a 32-29 edge.
BSU opened up a seven-point lead with an 8-0 run in the third before going scoreless over the next 5 minutes, 9 seconds. But, against the status quo, the lull didn’t define the rest of the night.
The St. Cloud State run stopped at seven as Bachmann snapped Bemidji State out of the drought with a layup. The teams walked into the fourth in a 44-44 deadlock, but even when the Huskies had another 7-0 run early on, BSU came right back.
“We kept getting stops,” DeVille said. “They’d go on 7-0 runs, but that would be it. It didn’t get to those big runs. We’d come back with (answers).”
Claire Wolhowe drained a corner three with 1:24 to go, good for a 60-58 lead, before Dammann tied it up with a 2-for-2 trip at the charity stripe. But from then on out, the Beavers used two timely layups and the defense to match to close it out.
“We just did the little things we’ve been preaching on,” Bemidji State head coach Chelsea DeVille said. “Things we’ve said need to matter every possession. We did it. We had a full-team effort, we communicated well, we had some grit and we just played really well as a team.”
Bemidji State concludes the regular season at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, against Minnesota Duluth at the BSU Gymnasium. Erica Gartner, the team’s lone senior, will be honored on Senior Day.
Bemidji State 65, St. Cloud State 62
SCSU 19 10 15 18 -- 62
BSU 14 18 12 21 -- 65
ST. CLOUD STATE (19-6, 16-5 NSIC) -- Dammann 21, Wortz 13, Evans 8, Kilboten 8, Steen 6, Navratil 5, Peterson 1, Johnson 0, Peschel 0. Totals 24-53, 9-10, 62.
BEMIDJI STATE (9-16, 6-15 NSIC) -- Heittola 23, Bachmann 9, Bray 9, Myer 8, Wolhowe 8, Zerr 6, Wenner 2, DuBois 0, Gartner 0, Wenner 0. Totals 28-62, 4-10, 65.