Bulldogs bounce Bemidji

Just like many athletes, Minnesota Duluth men's basketball player Jordan Nuness spent much of the offseason thinking about the season and visualizing how the first game would be.

Just like many athletes, Minnesota Duluth men's basketball player Jordan Nuness spent much of the offseason thinking about the season and visualizing how the first game would be.

But no matter how many times Nuness pictured it, he and his UMD teammates would have a hard time dreaming up a better start than the one they got off to Wednesday against Bemidji State.

Nuness made his first three shots -- all 3-pointers -- to jump-start UMD to a 17-4 lead, en route to a 90-59 trouncing of overmatched Bemidji in the teams' regular season opener before 512 spectators at Romano Gymnasium.

Nuness finished with 18 points on six 3-pointers, while teammate Brian Foss scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the second half and grabbed nine rebounds to keep the Beavers at bay.

It was UMD's third-straight season-opening win over Bemidji, and the 90 points was more than UMD scored in any game last season.


"I got off to a hot start and got on a roll, but I really have to credit my teammates for getting me open,'' Nuness said. "The biggest part of my game is shooting, and our big fellows were doing their job kicking the ball out to me. They made it pretty easy for me tonight.''

Nuness opened the game's scoring with a 3-pointer from near the top of the key and the Bulldogs would hold the lead the rest of the way.

While UMD came out shooting 52 percent in the first half and outrebounding the shorter, less-physical Beavers 23-12, Bemidji shot an anemic 22 percent and trailed 41-23 at the break. The Beavers got most of their points at the line and only made two field goals in the first 18 minutes.

With Nuness and company connecting from outside, that opened up the middle for UMD to pound the ball inside in the second half with Foss, junior John Vaudreuil (18 points) and Matt Rawley (12 points, nine rebounds). UMD finished with a 44-25 rebounding advantage, including 14-6 on the offensive glass.

"Rawley and Vaudreuill have come a long way since last year,'' coach Gary Holquist said. "When you look at the difference from last year to this year, you look at the development of those two. Those two help give us an inside-outside presence, and that creates numerous opportunities for guys like Jordan to catch and shoot.''

Bemidji State got 12 points from Andre Bell and Sergej Baskow, a freshman from Ludwugsburg, Germany, who came off the bench Wednesday.

"They were far more physical than we were,'' said Bemidji's Matt Bowen, who made his head coaching debut Wednesday after stints as an assistant coach at Valparaiso and Alabama-Birmingham. "Their big men just absolutely dominated the game, and I thought Nuness really set the tone early by hitting some 3-pointers, which really spread us out. There was a time early in the game where we weren't playing defense, but were just chasing people around.''

Bowen inherits a team in transition after losing 11 seniors from last season and having eight transfers on the roster.


The Bulldogs appeared more physical and stronger defensively than last year, but both Nuness and Holquist were guardedly optimistic.

"I think we're more together this year,'' Nuness said. "Last year we were a little up-and-down, and this year we're going to be more together and fight through the adversity a little better. We should be much better defensively, but we've got to keep it up, though. This is only one game.''

Holquist said the Bulldogs played too much as individuals at times in the first half and addressed that at the break. The second half was a relentless team pounding, even though Bemidji played much better.

UMD should get a tougher test in a tournament this weekend in Mankato, Minn., starting with Dominican College (Orangeburg, N.Y.) at 3 p.m. Friday, followed by Felician College (Lodi, N.J.) at 3 p.m. Saturday.

As part of a deal brokered with the team, Holquist agreed to be less intrusive before games because his pregame pacing in the locker room made some players nervous.

Instead, Holquist allowed the Bulldogs on Wednesday to do the majority of their pregame preparations on their own, while he found a quiet room nearby to collect his thoughts.

"It was lonely,'' Holquist said.

After Wednesday's runaway victory, Holquist might have to get used to it.


Bemidji State 59

James Gibson 2-3 1-1 5, Aaron Evans 3-5 0-1 10, Alex Smith 3-8 0-0 6, Andre Bell 2-3 0-0 12, Marques Ramos 2-12 1-3 6, Dan Sowu 2-6 0-2 5, Sergej Baskow 5-11 1-1 12, Jermon Marsh 1-5 1-4 3. Totals 20-53 4-12 59

Minnesota Duluth 90

Ryan Breidenbach 1-4 1-2 3, Jodan Nuness 6-11 6-10 18, Bryan Foss 8-13 0-2 22, John Vaudreuil 5-9 0-0 17, Matt Rawley 5-8 0-0 12, Brian St. Peter 0-1 0-1 3, Steve Klass 1-3 1-2 3, Steve Duncan 2-4 1-3 5, Matt Hockett 2-2 0-0 7. Totals 30-57 9-22 90.

Halftime - Bemidji St. 23, UMD 41. 3 point field goals - Bemidji St. 4-12 (James Gibson 1-1, Marques Ramos 1-3, Sergej Baskow 1-1, Jermon Marsh 1-4), UMD 4-11 (Jordan Nuness 6-10, Ryan Breidenbach 1-2, Steve Klass 1-2, Steve Duncan 1-3). Rebounds - Bemidji St 25 (A. Smith 5), UMD 44 (Foss). Assists - Bemidji St. 10 (Ramos 3), UMD 22 (Breidenbach 6). Fouls - Bemidji St. 20, UMD 19. Fouled out - Sowu.

Bulldog women edged by defending national champions

The Minnesota Duluth women's basketball team pushed defending NCAA Division II national champion Grand Valley State to the brink before falling 55-52 in the season opener on Wednesday at Fieldhouse Arena in Allendale, Mich.

UMD started with a 4-0 lead, holding the Lakers scoreless for more than five minutes, before they came back to take a 27-21 halftime lead.


The Bulldogs fought back to take their first lead of the second half at the 11:43 mark, 37-36, on a Katie Winkelman jump shot. Grand Valley State, ranked second in Division II, regained control with an 11-3 run. Down 51-44, UMD held the Lakers scoreless over a three-minute span and had the ball in the closing seconds with a chance to win or tie after a steal by Alissa Pauly, but the Bulldogs' last shot came up short.

Winkelman finished with a game-high 19 points, while freshman Jordanne Even scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half.

Crystal Zick paced the Lakers with 18 points and four steals.

UMD plays Minnesota State-Moorhead at 6 p.m. Friday at the Concordia Tip Off Tournament in St. Paul, Minn.

Jon Nowacki is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune
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