Bemidji State falls behind early as Minnesota State takes over with swarming press

Jan. 13—BEMIDJI — If you mess with the Maverick, sometimes you get the horns.

The Bemidji State women's basketball team learned that lesson the hard way on Friday night at the BSU Gymnasium. Facing a swarming and energetic Minnesota State team, the Beavers struggled to find any early offensive flow against the Mavericks' tenacious full-court press, repeatedly turning the ball over and setting up MSU for several easy baskets.

The result was a 22-7 first-quarter advantage that the Mavericks steadily built upon to finish off a dominant 79-51 victory.

"They make stress on your offense with how they attack you," said BSU head coach Chelsea Stoltenberg. "They take chances. They never give up and never quit. A lot of our kids haven't played against Mankato, either. So it takes some time to relax, and the shots aren't easy to come by."

Bemidji State (3-10, 0-9 NSIC) attempted 12 field goals in the first quarter, making three. The Beavers responded in the second quarter, winning that frame 19-14.

But by that time, the damage had been done, and it was too late for BSU to mount a comeback against Minnesota State (11-4, 8-1 NSIC), which currently tops the conference standings.

"We just have to have 40 minutes of toughness," Stoltenberg said. "We have to have — if your name's called and you're in the lineup, you have to be prepared to play hard and team basketball. If it's not your night, you've got to provide some other way, if that's on the bench (or something else). At some point, we've got to find a rotation. And we're trying, but we just have to be ready to fight."

Bemidji State showed resolve in the remaining three quarters, but a slow start still doomed the Beavers to their ninth consecutive conference loss this season. Though it's not always front of mind, the burden of continually coming up short is something BSU is struggling with as it seeks to break through.

"It is (weighing on them)," Stoltenberg said. "But I'm very positive with them. I'm trying to encourage them. They come to practice ready to fight, because we haven't given up hope. This team isn't a team that's a winless team. We just have to find some (wins) to get the pressure off of us. But at the same time, we have a lot of young kids that are hungry and battling, and we have some upperclassmen that are leading the best they can. So we're right there. We just need a taste, and I think we deserve a victory. We've just got to go out and get it."

Bemidji State will have one more opportunity for a win this weekend against Winona State, and the Beavers will try to turn the page to make the most of Saturday's clean slate.

"Once we settled in, we found where we thought we could get some better shots and control some things," Stoltenberg said. "... (The message was) be ready to go tomorrow. We're at home again, and we've got to be ready to fight."

Minnesota State 79, Bemidji State 51

MSU 22 14 24 19 — 79

BSU 7 19 16 9 — 51

BEMIDJI STATE — Pogatchnik 18, Hill 8, Giorgi 6, Ganyo 5, Guenther 3, Majewski 3, Plasch 3, Suprenand 3, White 2.

MINNESOTA STATE — Bursch 20, Herzberg 12, Bremer 10, Batt 8, Herzig 8, Schweim 6, Russo 5, Stier 4, Conrad 2, Mueller 2, Luneckas 1, Nuytten 1.