The 2018 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament tips off at 8 p.m. Wednesday as the Bemidji State University men’s basketball program travels to face Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D. The Beavers finished the regular season with the number four seed in the NSIC North Division while the Vikings secured the number five seed in the NSIC South Division and a home playoff game following the final weekend of the regular season.
With a history that dates back to 1966, Bemidji State and Augustana have met only 20 times. The Vikings lead the all-time series, 14-6, and have won 12 of the last 14 and the last six meetings, including a 74-63 victory in Sioux Falls, S.D., during the beginning of the 2017 NSIC Tournament. The Vikings also took the 2017-18 regular season meeting, 92-66, in Bemidji, Minn.
Bemidji State held a 16-8 lead over Augustana three minutes into play, but the Vikings took control to end the half and go up, 48-38, at halftime. Senior guard Sharif Black led BSU with 22 points, which was his sixth 20-point game of the season. He finished the game shooting 9-of-16 from the field while sophomore guard Jai’Vionne Green and freshman forward Derek Thompson each also topped double-figure scoring.
Bemidji State finished the regular season with its sixth straight split following a 67-59 win at University of Mary and an 80-71 loss at Minot State University. The Beavers enter the 2018 NSIC Tournament as the four seed in the North Division and will travel to face the South Division five seed Augustana University.
The senior guard duo of Sharif Black and Christian Pekarek combined for 36 points against U-Mary, while sophomore forward Logan Bader secured his third double-double of the season to help pull away in the win. BSU shot 42.9 percent from the field, 35.0 percent from long range and 63.2 percent from the free throw line while outrebounding U-Mary, 40-31.
Black led all scorers with 19 points on 6-of-14 shooting from the field and added seven rebounds and a team-high five assists. Pekarek followed Black with 17 points, including five 3-pointers, and chipped in five assists. Bader finished the game with 13 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Bemidji State took a 38-31 lead into halftime behind 68.0 percent shooting in the opening period before Minot State went on to shoot 45.2 percent from the field and sink 16-of-18 free throws in the second half of the BSU loss. Bemidji State shot 56.0 percent from the floor, 37.5 percent from beyond the arc and 81.8 percent from the free throw line, but gave away 51 MiSU points combined between points off turnovers and second-chance points.
Green led BSU in scoring against MiSU with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting and also led the team with seven boards. Black got close to the 20-point mark again Saturday with 18 on 9-of-14 shooting with six rebounds and five assists. Bader finished with 13 points for the second straight game.
The Beavers finished the conference season ninth in the NSIC with 75.1 points allowed per game and 13th with 72.9 points scored per game. Bemidji State’s 43.7 percent field goal defense comes in second in the league compared to its 45.9 percent shooting offense that comes in 12th.
Black continues to lead Bemidji State in scoring with 16.0 points per game, which ranks him 14th in the conference. Green follows with 13.1 points per game, which ranks him 27th in the NSIC. Pekarek is a key factor in BSU’s scoring as he leads the team and ranks sixth in the NSIC with 4.4 assists per game. He also ranks seventh in the league with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.5. Pekarek ranks fourth all-time at BSU with 293 career assists, nine shy of third.
Augustana finished its final weekend of action with a split on the road after an 86-84 win against Winona State University and an 87-77 loss at Upper Iowa University. The Vikings trailed Friday night’s game by double-digits in both halves before making the comeback victory to secure a home playoff game.
Augustana used the same five starters in all 28 games, while all five starters averaged at least 10 points per game. Marcus Asmus notched his team-leading seventh double-double of the season at UIU. Jordan Spencer surpassed 900 career assists Saturday and enters the NSIC Tournament with 901.