College men's basketball: Bulldogs keep their heads, take down Beavers
UMD gets 43 free-throw attempts, while BSU coach gets ejected.
BEMIDJI, Minn. — Saturday’s game for the Bemidji State men’s basketball team may not be memorable, but they’ll sure have a hard time forgetting that one.
Beaver fans moaned and groaned all Saturday afternoon inside the BSU Gymnasium — both at a 90-77 loss to Minnesota Duluth and at a foul fest that left them with the short end of the stick.
“It was just obviously hard because of what was going on throughout the game, the refs and them hitting shots at the same time,” junior guard Mohamed Kone said. “It’s hard, but I’m really proud of my team, that we fought all the way through and we didn’t give up until the buzzer.”
In the first half, Bemidji State had as many fouls as field goals, saw its head coach ejected and gave up a killer 13-0 run to stumble into a detrimental hole.
“Obviously it’s a tough situation we got put in,” said BSU assistant Mike Iseman, who filled in as the acting head coach. “(Head coach Mike Boschee) was fighting for us and fighting for the team. … Coach was fighting for us, so we’ve got to continue to fight as a team.”
After an ongoing discussion with an official about the foul disparity, Boschee received a technical foul. He continued pleading his case and was issued a second tech moments later.
The Bulldogs immediately made six straight from the charity stripe (four technical free throws and two single-bonus free throws), which nearly doubled their run into a 13-0 burst that suddenly catapulted them in front 40-22.
UMD shot 22 free throws in the first half. The Beavers shot two.
“The biggest thing we talked about at halftime,” Iseman said, “was that we’ve got to take that frustration and use it towards positive, aggressive energy. (We can’t) let it negatively affect us or let it turn into whining or complaining where we’re more worried about the outside circumstances than our own play on the court.”
Bemidji State trailed 50-31 at the break and fell behind by 25 early in the second half. BSU did manage to slightly shift momentum, though, highlighted by a 3-pointer from Derek Thompson that lifted him among the top 10 all-time scorers in program history. He finished the game in ninth place with 1,227 career points.
The difference shrunk back down to 10 points when Tyler Behrendt and Nick Wagner combined for an 8-0 run, and the game was within 73-64 on a Wagner free throw with five minutes remaining.
But then the comeback fizzled out, as Minnesota Duluth hit a few big shots and held the Beaver offense in check.
“We had to go back and execute, and I don’t think we executed as much as we needed to during that time,” Kone said of the comeback. “It kind of fell away, and they just kept hitting big-time shots. That’s where it hurt us.”
Kone finished with 24 points and eight assists in the end, while Wagner added 14, Thompson 13 and Griffin Chase 11.
All five Minnesota Duluth starters hit double figures, led by a game-high 25 points from Drew Blair and another 24 from Jack Middleton.
UMD racked up 43 free-throw attempts on the day to BSU’s 12, though a dozen of those Bulldog freebies came in the final 70 seconds when the Beavers sent them to the line.
Ironically, Bemidji State will now be Minnesota Duluth fans next weekend. UMD will travel to St. Cloud State, with SCSU owning a two-game lead on BSU for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division. If the Huskies lose both and the Beavers sweep Minnesota Crookston, those two plus UMD will finish in a three-way tie for fourth place, and the postseason bid will go to the winner of a tiebreaker.