Northern State Steals 87-84 Overtime Heart-Breaker at BSU
Saturday, January 15, 2005
BEMIDJI, Minn. -- [box score] With the score tied at 83 and just nine ticks left in the first overtime, Northern State's Matt Hammer found Dustin Hjelmeland for a wide-open three that would not only put the Wolves in position for an 87-84 overtime victory over Bemidji State University in BSU's home gym, it would also potentially vault NSU to sole possession of first place in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference standings.

But nine seconds is a long time in collegiate basketball and despite being down three with less than 10 seconds to play, Bemidji State senior James Roberson (Chicago, Ill.) gave the Beavers a perfect opportunity to come back to force its first double-overtime game since the 1983 season as he was fouled and went to the line with just seconds to play.

After sinking the front end of the two-shot foul, the senior bounced his next shot of the front of the rim. NSU's Aaron Busack fouled Bemidji State's Mike Fore (Bagley, Minn.) as the senior hauled in the rebounds and attempted to put the missed free-throw back.

Fore missed his first free-throw and NSU came down with the intentional miss on the second to ice the 87-84 win.

After playing catch up for the fist 4:30 of the game, the Beavers responded by rattling off four consecutive three-pointers to go up 18-8. They would increase that lead to 11 points three times during the first half but Hjelmeland hit two threes as the Wolves closed out the first half down just one (40-39) after a 11-2 run in the final 4:16.

"We were shooting the ball pretty well early, making some defensive stops and seemed to be in pretty good control of the game with a 27-16 lead," said BSU head coach Patrick Smith. "But that is fool's gold. What ended up happening was that they stayed with their game plan and got the shots that they wanted."

The Beavers battled with NSU during the first eight minutes of the second half never trailing by more than four points despite going just 2-for-9 during the stretch.

"We came out in the second half and not only did we not execute on the offensive end of the court but our defense also went south and we dug ourselves an nine-point hole." Smith added, "but I thought we did a heck-of-a-job battling back from that point."

Down by nine points (59-50) with 9:16 to go in regulation, the Beavers began their comeback.

Alvin Muse (South Holland, Ill.) kicked off a run that would see the Beavers within two points (63-61) just two minutes later and would tie the game at 70-70 on his third three of the night with just over three minutes to play.

In the final 180 seconds of regulation the score would be tied on four occasions with NSU's Jarod Obering hitting a pair of key free-throws with less than 30 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime.

After the game Smith commented, "It was an experienced veteran team picked to win the league versus a team that's still trying to find itself and maybe not understanding quite what it's all about." He added, "We felt like we needed to win the game in regulation and we just did not execute."

"The bottom line is that we put them at the line too much and had some serious foul problems that really limited our chances to be successful," said Smith of a 30-personal-foul night for BSU.

One direct result of those fouls were 44 free-throw opportunities by NSU. Busack nailed 12-of-17 as the Wolves outscored BSU 30-16 from the line. The other was with 35.5 seconds to go in the game, BSU was down to just seven players as four of its five starters (Beechum, Carter, Fields and Major) had each already be called for their fifth foul an were done for the night.

In addition to its shortened bench, BSU played the bulk of the game without the services of senior forward Ian Atkins (Detroit, Mich.) who left in the first half after being on the receiving end of an elbow to the chest.

Muse led the Beavers with 20 points on 5-of-12 from the floor including a 4-for-7 effort from three-point land. Senior Amir Major (Chicago, Ill.) added 19 points and a team-high 10 boards for his second double-double of the season while fellow senior Roberson poured in 14 points and dished out a team-high five assists. Junior forward Spencer Carter (Chicago, Ill.) finished the game just one block shy of the BSU single-game record collecting a career-high six blocked shots.

The Wolves got a huge game out of their big man Busack. He collected a game-high 30 points while muscling down 15 rebounds as NSU held a commanding 48-35 edge on the glass. Hammer added 19 points and a game-high eight assists while Hjelmeland pitched in 18.

The loss moves the Beavers to 9-8 on the season and 3-1 in NSIC play. It also puts an end to a 14-game winning streak at home versus conference competition and a current four-game winning streak.

Bemidji State will be back in action Friday and Saturday when it is tested on the road for the first time this season traveling to Southwest Minnesota State University (Jan. 21) and Wayne State College (Jan. 22). Both games are slated for 8:00 p.m. tip-offs.