MOORHEAD, Minn. (Alex Nemzek Hall) -- The Bemidji State University men’s basketball team held the lead for most of the contest against Minnesota State University, Moorhead, putting itself in a position to pick up its first win of the 2008-09 season, but fell short, 71-67, in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) opener Friday at Alex Nemzek Hall.
The Beavers’ defense had the Dragons on their heels all night long holding MSUM to just 5-of-24 from downtown (.208) and 23-of-60 form the field (.383), but the Dragons made up for its shooting woes at the free-throw line out scoring BSU 20-16 draining 76.9 percent of its opportunities (20-26).
Down the stretch, the Dragons capitalized on costly BSU fouls and turnovers to gain the hard-fought conference battle.
The trio of Seth Haake (Jr., G, Eden Prairie, Minn.), Brady Fairbanks (So., G, Bena, Minn.) and Sergej Baskow (Jr., C, Ludwigsburg, Germany) each netted 12 points to led the charge for the Beavers while Baskow led all players with a season-high eight rebounds as BSU crashed the glass for a 39-32 rebounding advantage. Haake led the Beavers with a season-high four assists.
The Dragons were paced by Justyn Burgess who scored a game-high 26 points on 10-of-16 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. Andre Van Havermaet added 19 points while Burgess had a team-high six rebounds. Chad Thompson and Burgess each had four assists in the contest.
Although BSU found itself down two early, 8-6, the team rallied together to score seven of the next nine points to take a 13-10 lead with 10:33 remaining in the half. MSUM rattled of the next four points to take a 14-13 lead and with the score tied at 17-17 for the second time of the contest the Beavers went on a 18-12 run to close out the half to take a 35-29 advantage into the half. The halftime lead was BSU’s first lead at halftime this season.
BSU came out in the second half scoring the first five points off a layup by Baskow and a three-pointer by Zach Eastman (So., G, Chaska, Minn.) to give the Beavers their largest lead of the game at 40-29 just 1:35 into the final frame.
The Dragons fought their way back into the game as they out scored BSU 11-3 over a span of 6:35 finding themselves down by just two points with 13:30 left in the contest. The Beavers pushed its lead back to nine points (53-44) capped off by a Fairbanks layup but saw the Dragons reel them back into within one point (62-61) with 5:54 left.
Back-to-back layup’s by Burgess gave MSUM its first lead since 9:23 left in the first half at 66-64. A free-throw followed by a layup on the next possession by Baskow gave the Beavers the lead once again, 67-66, but two free-throws by Van Havermaet gave MSUM a 68-67 with 2:07 remaining. Solid defense by MSUM held BSU scoreless during the final 2:17 of the contest allowing the Dragons to steal a 71-67 victory over BSU.
BSU finished the game 24-of-51 (.471) from the field, 3-of-11 from beyond the arc and 16-of-24 from the free-throw line (.667). BSU also hurt themselves in the turnover category surrendering six more turnovers than the Dragons (22-16).
The Beavers fall to 79-82 in the all-time series versus MSU Moorhead. BSU is now 7-7 all-time when opening the conference season versus MSU Moorhead.
Bemidji State (0-5; 0-1 NSIC) will be back in action tomorrow (Dec. 6) when it travels to Minnesota, Crookston for a NSIC tilt. The game is slated for a 8 p.m. opening tip from Lysaker Gymnasium.
State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II
institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference