Bemidji State Wins Third Straight With 67-59 Triumph
Wednesday, December 4, 2002
Dec. 4, 2002

Mankato, Minn. - At Bresnan Arena, Bemidji State (3-1, 0-0 NSIC) came back from a nine point deficit in the second half, scoring 16 of the game’s final 20 points to take a 67-59 affair against Minnesota State-Mankato (2-2, 0-0 NCC).

“This is really a big win for us,” said head coach Mike Power. “It showed great character to come in here, battle hard and stick with it after being on the road for seven days. You can really tell that traveling caught up to us as we did not get as many deflections on the defensive end.”

Despite a disadvantage in free throws converted (3-9) and having foul trouble to sophomore forward Stacia Swanson (Sioux City, Iowa) with three, junior forward Amber Graf (Hammond, Wis.) with two and sophomore forward Melissa Bessler (Lake George, Minn.) with two, BSU clung to a 31-29 halftime advantage.

The Beavers led for a good part of the half as they held the Mavericks scoreless until the 17:24 mark on a Kim Curtis jumper. BSU trailed once at 9-7 but back-to-back jumpers by Bessler put Bemidji State up at the 11:57 mark. The visitors led by as many as six at 27-21 capped by a lay-up by Graf. However, MSU went on a 8-4 run to close out the half. Bessler led all scorers with 10 and four steals.

Out of intermission, the Mavericks got two quick three-pointers from Kris Wolle and Kelli Freeman to go up 35-31 as they seemed to gain some momentum. They would go up by as many as nine at 48-39 at 12:23 before the Beavers came firing back. Beginning with four straight free throws by Graf, BSU scored 12 of the next 17 points to bring the count within two at 53-51 at 6:45. MSU’s Kristin Volk connected on a jumper but BSU’s defense and good shooting would rule as Bemidji State went on a 16-4 outburst in the final 6:24. BSU went 5-6 from the charity stripe to seal the non-conference victory.

Despite playing much of the second half with four fouls, Graf notched a career-high of 24 points. Joining her with foul trouble in the second half was Swanson but she found a way to get it done with 10 points and eight boards while Bessler had 14 and a team-high 10 rebounds.

“Graf shot the ball well and carried us for the second half,” said Power. “Mel played really well and I think she had a break-out game especially there in the first half. The guards did a great job on the defensive end as well. I am just really proud of how the girls stuck with it.”

BSU maintained a 40.3 field goal mark (27-67) with Graf shooting leading the way on 10-16 shooting. Also, BSU had a 17-12 advantage in the assists category. The Beavers were without a three-point field goal as they went 0-10.

For the Mavericks, Kris Wolle paced the scorers with 10 points on only 3-13 shooting while Hannah Stolba recorded a game-high 12 boards. MSU-M shot just .274 from the field (17-62) and had 24 turnovers.

The Beavers will turn right around for a game on Friday as they host #1 South Dakota State. The contest will mark BSU’s 2002-03 home opener with tip-off at 7:00 p.m. at the BSU Gymnasium.

Notes: The last time BSU won three in a row dates back to the 1998-99 season with victories over Morningside, South Dakota & UM-Crookston, Dec. 4, 5, 9, 1998....BSU is 8-16 in the all-time series and won its first match since a Dec. 13, 1998 effort...The BSU wins snaps a two-game losing streak against MSU-Mankato...The Beavers were snowed in on Monday after traveling to Chicago as the game was a postponement from Tuesday.