PHOENIX, Ariz. -- The Bemidji State University women’s basketball team used a second half push and freshman fire power to earn a 61-57 victory against Western State University (Colo.), Friday at the Grand Canyon Thanksgiving Tournament. Freshman Katie Pettit (G, Howard Lake, Minn.) led the team in points with 15, while adding eight rebounds and five assists. Freshman center Emily Kaus (Eagan, Minn.) had a game-high 14 rebounds and a BSU single-game record seven blocks.
With the win, the Beavers improve to 3-1 on the season, matching last season’s win total. The last time BSU has started 3-1 was the 2002-03 season. Kaus surpassed Christine Schulze for the single-game block record. Schulze recorded six blocks against the University of Minnesota-Morris in the 1999-00 season. Kaus now has five or more blocks in a game twice this season and her 14 rebounds is a team-high in 2009-10.
“This was a game where our defense took another step forward,” said head coach Mike Curfman. “Despite giving-up too many offensive rebounds and second chance points, our defense played well. It’s very important for our team to pull out these close games early in the season to gain confidence down the road.”
The Beavers were down 10 points halfway through the first half at 15-5. BSU made a 22-13 run to end the first frame, behind eight points from sophomore Sydney Epema (G, Crookston, Minn.), to cut the halftime deficit to one at 27-28. A jumper from freshman Jessie Althoff (C, Becker, Minn.) at the 17:38 mark of the second half gave BSU its first lead of the game at 31-30. The Mountaineers responded with a 9-4 run to regain the lead at 39-35 with just over 13 minutes remaining. The Beavers then lit-up the Antelope Gym on both the offensive and defensive end, rattling-off 12 straight points to take an eight point lead with 9:20 on the clock. WSU responded with a big 8-2 run of its own over the next two minutes of the game, cutting the Beaver lead to two with the scoreboard reading 49-47. The two point deficit would be as close as the Mountaineers would get, as BSU again went on to increase its lead to as much as nine before winning by four. Two Pettit free throws iced the game with four seconds left for the Beavers, leaving WSU with a slim chance to tie the game.
Four Beavers were in double-digits in scoring, led by Pettit’s 15. Althoff recorded 12 points and Epema and junior guard Anna Hebrink (Austin, Minn.) had 10. Sophomore guard Samantha Baldwin (St. Thomas, N.D.) came off the bench to add five points and five rebounds, while leading the team in assists with four. BSU shot just 35.2 percent from the floor and 23.3 percent from beyond the arc, but held its opponent to a dismal 26.9 percent from the field.
The Beavers play Western New Mexico Nov. 28 at 3 p.m.
Bemidji State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).