All five of Bemidji State University men’s basketball’s starters scored in double-digits Friday night to help lead the program to a 73-63 win over University of Minnesota Duluth at BSU Gymnasium. Three Beavers (4-3, 1-1 NSIC) scored 16 points and recorded seven rebounds each to help the team to its first win in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play.
Following a 4-0 start by Minnesota Duluth, sophomore guard Jai’Vionne Green and senior guard Christian Pekarek hit back-to-back shots to put Bemidji State up, 5-4. Green extended the run to 9-0 with two free throws and a layup to put the Beavers up, 9-4, midway through the first half. The Bulldogs scored on the next possession and kept the game within three points, while both teams traded the lead four times over the next 10 minutes.
The Beavers were able to create a short margin of separation off a Bulldogs missed field goal as sophomore forward Lucas Wendt and Pekarek, with his first 3-pointer of the night, put BSU up, 23-18. Two free throws and a layup by senior guard Sharif Black with just over one minute in the game pushed the Bemidji State lead to its largest margin of the first half, 29-21, before Minnesota Duluth closed the half with a layup. Bemidji State entered halftime holding a 29-23 advantage while shooting 44.0 percent from the field and holding Minnesota Duluth to 31.3 percent.
It took under five minutes in the second half for Bemidji State to extend its lead to double-digits for the first time with the final shot to go up 10 on a 3-pointer by sophomore forward Logan Bader. The Beavers went on a 12-6 run over that stretch and took another 10-point lead less than one minute later.
The Bulldogs followed the deficit with a 10-3 run of their own while holding the Beavers to 1-of-7 shooting from the field during the five-minute stretch. Black converted his first 3-pointer of the game to get BSU out of its funk and get the team up by double digits again. Green took an assist from sophomore guard Jacob McNallan and sank a 3-pointer to end an 8-0 BSU run. Pekarek later pushed the lead to 12 points, 57-45, on an and-one opportunity that he converted with 7:13 remaining in the game.
The BSU defense came to the forefront of the game between the 6:58 and 2:45 marks, as it held UMD to 0-for-8 shooting from the field. The Bulldogs’ only points came from four free throws, while the Beavers were able to take a game-high 14-point, 63-49 lead with 3:18 remaining. UMD brought the score within seven points but BSU extended the lead again while taking its first win in conference play.
Every Beavers starter scored in double-digits, led by Black, Pekarek and Wendt with 16 points each. The trio also recorded seven rebounds apiece while Pekarek added four assists. Bader totaled 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting and led BSU with eight rebounds. Green was the final scorer for BSU with 12 points with six rebounds.
Bemidji State shot 45.6 percent from the field and outrebounded Minnesota Duluth, 47-39. Despite 19 Bemidji State turnovers that turned into 20 points for Minnesota Duluth, UMD finished the game shooting 31.0 percent from the floor and just 8.0 percent from beyond the arc.
BSU closes out its first full NSIC weekend Saturday with a home contest against St. Cloud State University. The Beavers and Huskies tip-off at 6 p.m. from BSU Gymnasium on Youth Day at BSU.