Bemidji State advances to NSIC Tournament semifinal with 76-63 win over MSUM
Wednesday, March 1, 2006
BEMIDJI, Minn. – [box score] In a dominating performance in the paint Stacy Pearson-Taylor (Sr., F, Miami, Fla.) netted 18 points and pulled down 20 rebounds to help the Bemidji State University men's basketball team advance to the 2006 NISC/Red Baron Basketball Classic semifinal round for the fourth consecutive season in a 76-63 victory over Minnesota State University-Moorhead Wednesday evening at the BSU Gymnasium. Pearson-Taylor's record-setting effort on the glass established new career-best and an NSIC Tournament single-game record.

"Stacy Pearson-Taylor just played like an animal tonight, I don't know of any other way to phrase it," commented BSU head coach Patrick Smith after the game.

"He has played so well for us during the second half of the season, but tonight I think he knew he had to get it done with Guzman out with foul trouble." Smith continued, "He just stepped up and got the job done."

In addition to Pearson-Taylor's team-leading sixth double-double of the season, fellow senior Alvin Muse (G, South Holland, Ill.) posted a game-high 20 points on 6-of-14 from beyond the arc and a perfect 2-of-2 from the line while Duane Fields (Sr., G, Los Angeles, Calif.) added 14. Senior point guard Derik Hollyfield (Aurora, Ill.) rounded out the BSU double-figure scorers with 11 points while setting a new career-best of nine assists. The effort also equals an NSIC Tournament record set last winter by former BSU great James Roberson.

MSU-Moorhead was paced in the game by Cedrick Hensley who was 7-of-18 from the floor and 5-of-8 from the line matching Muse for game-high honors. Marcus Ebow added 14 points while point guard Blake Strouth collected a team-best nine boards.

BSU got out of the blocks quickly using a pair of Muse threes during the first 148 seconds to take a 10-0 lead and force MSUM head coach Stu Engen to use an early timeout to stop the bleeding and keep his team in the game.

The Dragons responded by going on a seven-point run of their own and scoring 10 of the next 12 points to cut the BSU lead to 12-10 with 15:16 on the clock on Strouth's only three-point field goal of the game.

Fields added five points during the next two minutes to put BSU back on top by seven (17-10), but a Jamal O'Neal layup ignited a Dragon 11-point turnaround as Strouth scored five consecutive points including three free-throws after he was fouled behind the three-point line.

But the four-point (21-17) lead was short-lived. Hollyfield got hot from long-range hitting back-to-back triples sparking a 7-2 BSU run to regain the lead (24-23) with 7:02 to play in the half.

As the first half came to a close, Bemidji State again stretched it's lead to as many as seven points before the Dragons reeled the hosts to within a point (34-33).

Fields hit a three to send BSU into the break up 37-34.

Pearson-Taylor got BSU on the board first in the second half making good on the old fashioned three-point play, but during the next seven minutes, MSU-Moorhead outscored the Beavers 14-7 while BSU turned the ball over four times and went 3-of-11 from the field. The run gave the Dragons a 48-47 lead with 13 minutes to play.

BSU countered by stringing together then next nine points consecutively and putting a 14-3 run on the Dragons to go up by 10 (61-51) and take a commanding lead with just 6:45 left on the clock.

MSUM would slice the BSU advantage to four (61-57) with just over four minutes to go, but BSU was just too much on this night as Muse hit another big three and Steve Warren (Sr., F, Mason City, Iowa) hit a pair of free-throws just a minute later to give BSU a seven-point cushion.

BSU continued to pile points onto their lead during the final three minutes as MSUM attempted to save the clock by putting the Beavers on the line. Bemidji State was 9-of-10 from the line during the game's final minutes pushing their lead to 13 points before the final horn sounded.

With the 76-63 victory, BSU improves to a perfect 5-0 in NSIC Tournament games at the BSU Gymnasium and clams a 2-1 all-time record versus MSUM in tournament play. It also evens the 72-year, all-time series between the Beavers and the Dragons to 78-78.

Led by Pearson-Taylor, BSU held a commanding 41-31 edge on the glass translating into a 16-6 advantage in second-chance points. The team also out shot the Dragons draining 42 percent (25-59) of its shots as opposed to 38 percent from the Dragons (19-50).

BSU improved its overall record to 15-12 while MSU-Moorhead's season ends 16-12. The Beavers advance to the 2006 NSIC/Red Baron Classic semifinal round where they will face No. 2 seeded and nationally-ranked Northern State University which defeated Concordia-St. Paul 79-52 in quarterfinal action.

"We are looking forward to Saturday because at this point of the season if you lose you are recruiting the next day and right now I am just glad to still be coaching," said Smith.

"BSU has never been to the conference tournament finals and now we are just one game from getting there," he added. "But we also have a pretty tough opponent in Northern State standing in the way."

The Beavers will now make the trip to Winona, Minn. for a 2 p.m. rematch of last season's semifinal showdown with Northern State. The Beavers look to avenge a 71-61 loss in the game and continue its quest for its first NSIC Tournament Championship and an automatic berth into the NCAA Division II Tournament.

2006 NSIC/Red Baron Men's Basketball Classic schedule and results
Mar. 1 First Round - Campus Sites
No. 1 Winona State def. No. 8 Minnesota-Crookston, 88-59
No. 2 Northern State def. No. 7 Concordia-St. Paul, 79-52
No. 3 Bemidji State def. No. 6 MSU-Moorhead, 76-63
No. 4 Southwest Minnesota State def. No. 5 Wayne State, 71-57

Mar. 4 Semifinal Round - McGown Gymnasium, Winona, Minn.
No. 3 Bemidji State vs. No. 2 Northern State, 2 p.m.
No. 4 Southwest Minnesota State @ No. 1 Winona State, 4 p.m.

Mar. 5 Championship Game - McGown Gymnasium, Winona, Minn.
Bemidji State/Northern State winner vs. Southwest Minnesota State/Winona State winner