BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The Bemidji State University women’s basketball team put together a complete team effort Saturday and was rewarded with a 80-72 upset of the No. 11 and defending national champions, Minnesota State University, Mankato. The game at BSU Gymnasium was a nonconference contest that closed the year 2009 for the Beavers. BSU takes its first win from MSU in four tries, while handing the Mavericks just their fourth loss in past two seasons.
“The win was a result of a good, quality team effort,” said head coach Mike Curfman. “We got good post play and our guards did a great job of handling MSU’s pressure. Anytime you beat the No. 11 ranked team and defending national champion is a great accomplishment. I’m proud of our team and it’s great to end the first semester on a positive note.”
Freshman Jessie Althoff (C, Becker, Minn.) led the tem in scoring with 18 points, including a deep 2-point basket with time on the shot clock running down with 1:37 remaining in the game that put BSU up six at 70-64. Six players scored at least nine points and four Beavers recorded at least seven rebounds. Freshman Shannon Thompson (G, Rosemount, Minn.) provided a spark off the bench for BSU, scoring 13 points, dishing out four assists, getting two steals and providing clutch shooting from the free-throw line going 4-of-4. Sophomore guard Samantha Baldwin (St. Thomas, N.D.) played one of her best games of the season scoring nine points, while adding eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and going 5-of-8 from the line.
The Mavericks (8-2, 3-0 NSIC) dominated the game’s first 13 minutes, owning a 30-16 lead with 6:56 left on the clock, proving their national ranking. But the Beavers (8-3, 2-2 NSIC) weren’t about to submit to the defending national champions. Junior Colleen McKay (C, Barnum, Minn.) got BSU rolling with 5:44 left in the half via an old school 3-point play with a lay-up and a free throw. The Beavers used to the play to go on a 11-5 run to cut the deficit to eight with three minutes remaining in the half. BSU then went on lock-down on defense and didn’t allow the Mavericks, who have been averaging 77 points per game this season, to score for the remainder of the frame. The Beavers scored 10 unanswered points to close the first half and held a 37-35 lead heading into the locker room.
The Mavericks came out of halftime with smoke coming out of their noses and used the first five minutes of the second half to regain a seven point lead at 48-41. The Beavers then responded with an 8-0 run that took 2:29 off the clock, to post a 1-point lead. The two teams traded baskets until BSU took a 1-point lead at 53-52 with 11:05 remaining in regulation. The home team then held the lead for the remainder of the game, earning a six point lead with 6:42 left off a Althoff jumper. Every time it looked like MSU was going to go on a run the Beavers responded with a bucket or earned a defensive stop. The Mavericks could find an answer for BSU’s post players as Althoff, McKay and freshman Emily Kaus (C, Eagan, Minn.) scored eight consecutive points from the 9:00 to the 4:40 mark. MSU got within two after free throws from its top scorer this season, Jennie Noreen with 3:24 remaining on the clock. Sophomore guard Sydney Epema (Crookston, Minn.) squashed the MSU comeback with a cold-blooded 3-pointer on the next possession to give BSU a five point advantage. The Mavericks didn’t quit and used a 3-pointer from Liz Trauger to cut the deficit to four with the scoreboard reading 2:15. That set-up Althoff’s jumper with one second on the shot clock from 18 feet out. MSU came down and tried to respond with a quick 3-pointer, but freshman Katie Pettit (G, Howard Lake, Minn.) pulled down the rebound and the Mavericks immediately went into foul mode, putting BSU to the line for one-and-one’s. Pettit drained the first shot and followed it with another make that put BSU up eight with 57 ticks left. The Mavericks weren’t able to make their shots and the Beavers were sinking their free throws, leading MSU to just its second loss of the season and fourth in the last two years.
BSU shot 40 percent from the field in the game, but more importantly made 19 of its 24 free throw attempts. The Beavers outrebounded MSU 51-39, which included 13 boards on the offensive glass. BSU also had more assists 17-11 and less turnovers 13-15 in the game.
Junior Anna Hebrink (G, Austin, Minn.) and Pettit were a combined 1-for-16 from the field in the game, but pulled down 17 rebounds and Pettit was 6-of-7 from the line. McKay added nine points, four rebounds and two assists. Senior guard Kim Rosecrans (Crosby, Minn.) only played two minutes and was the only Beaver to not score, but took a bone-crushing charge that kept the momentum on BSU’s side late in the first half.
The Beavers start 2010 with a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference home weekend, Jan. 2-3, that begins with Augustana College at 4 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).