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Bemidji State University women’s basketball made program history with its fourth win ever in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament, taking down Winona State University 63-51 Wednesday night. Sophomore center Rachael Heittola and senior guard Trinity Yoder combined to score 36 points to lead BSU to the NSIC Quarterfinal round in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Heittola and Yoder combined to shoot 15-of-19 from the field, led by Heittola with 19 points and Yoder with 17 on 8-of-9 shooting. Heittola chipped in a team-high seven rebounds while Yoder followed with five rebounds.
BSU began with eight of the game’s first 10 points behind 3-pointers from Coley Rezabek and Sydney Zerr before doubling up WSU with under one minute to play. The Beavers later followed its 8-2 start with another 8-2 run, including four straight points from Heittola, to grab an 18-9 lead before the second quarter.
Leading by seven points after the first quarter, Yoder pushed the lead back to nine with a second-chance basket followed by a 3-pointer from Maddie Schires. Schires’ first basket of the game handed the Beavers its first 10-point lead of the game, 23-13, with 8:37 in the quarter. The Schires 3-pointer was the start of a 10-2 run and a 30-15 lead for BSU just before the media timeout.
Despite making just two field goals over the first eight minutes of the second quarter and shooting under 33 percent in the first half, Winona State ended the first half on an 8-4 run to cut Bemidji State’s lead to nine at halftime, 34-25. The Warriors scored the first five points of the third quarter to bring the Beavers’ lead to four, 34-30.
Bemidji State hit a cold spell without a score over a span of 4:16, allowing Winona State to climb to within three points, 39-36. Yoder snapped the streak with a layup before WSU scored on back-to-back layups to trail by one, 41-40, with two minutes in the third quarter. The Beavers ended the period on a 5-2 run to regain a four-point lead, 46-42, heading into the final frame.
Heittola put in the first bucket of the fourth quarter to start a 9-2 run and extend BSU’s lead to double digits again, 55-44. Yoder scored two straight layups to cap the run while the Beavers’ defense limited the Warriors to one field goal over the first six minutes of the fourth quarter.
Bemidji State will take on Concordia University-St. Paul, the two seed in the NSIC South Division, at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27 at the Sanford Health Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.