NSIC Regular Season Championship Slips Away from BSU
Friday, February 25, 2005
WINONA, Minn. - [box score] Coming into the last weekend of the 2004-05 season the Bemidji State University men's basketball team was right where it wanted to be. The team controlled its own destiny. A win on the road at Winona State University would clinch a second consecutive Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference regular season championship and a No. 1 Seed for the 2005 conference tournament.

Tonight the Beavers' dreams of their first back-to-back conference crowns since the 1951 and 1952 campaigns were crushed by the Warriors of Winona State who battled back from a first half deficit to control the final 30 minutes of the game and garner its first NSIC regular season crown since 1999-2000.

The Beavers came out of the gates strong. Amir Major (Chicago, ill.) netted BSU a 2-0 lead just 12 seconds into the game. Bemidji State would hold that lead for the first nine-minutes and 36-seconds, when a John Smith free-throw would give WSU a 14-13 advantage.

Try as they might, the Beavers were never able to gain control of the game again.

The teams battled back-and-fourth during the next five minutes but when WSU's David Zellmann knocked down a three to put the Warriors up six (28-22), it would spark an eight-point run putting WSU 11 points in the lead (33-22) with just under four minute to play in the first half

Bemidji State was not about to go down that easily. The Beavers forced three turnovers and WSU missed its final four shots of the half as the Bemidji State rattled off the final nine points of the half to go into the locker rooms down two points (33-31).

Winona State came out of the break to outscore BSU 10-2 and take a 43-33 lead just 2:17 into the half.

After the Beavers cut the deficit to five points (53-48) at the mid-point the second half, Winona State countered with a 10-0 run that would be the Beavers' dagger as the Warriors stretched their lead to 16 points with under two-minutes to play.

Derrick Beechum (Davenport, Iowa) led the Beavers' offensive attack scoring 22 points on 8-of-12 from the floor and a 6-for-7 night at the line. Major added 12 points while Spencer Carter (Chicago, Ill.) netted 11 points and pulled down a team-high seven rebounds.

The Warriors were led by Zellmann's 27 points as the junior poured in a perfect 10-of-10 from the free-throw line. Smith added 17 points while dominating the boards and helping to give WSU a 38-29 advantage on the glass by grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds.

The loss drops BSU alone into second place in the NSIC season standings, after a Northern State loss to Southwest Minnesota State, with a conference record of 10-3. The team is now 16-10 overall.

The win moves Winona State to 20-9 overall and 11-2 in league conference play.

The Beavers close out the 2004-05 regular season with an 8:00 p.m. tip from the Gangelhoff Center on the campus of Concordia University-St. Paul tomorrow night. Then it is back the Bemidji where BSU will host its first round NSIC tournament game March 2 at 7:00 p.m.