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Tale of 2 halves spoils Bemidji State's Senior Day against Mustangs

Feb. 17—BEMIDJI — The Bemidji State women's basketball team's season hasn't gone the way the Beavers would have liked.

In some ways, Saturday's matchup with Southwest Minnesota State was a microcosm of what has been a challenging campaign. Facing one of the better teams in the NSIC, BSU kept it close early before falling behind 18 points at the half. SMSU stretched its lead to 28 in the third quarter.

But as it did overall toward the end of this year, Bemidji State closed with a strong push down the stretch. By the final buzzer, the Beavers made up 15 points, but that wasn't enough in a 78-65 loss.

BSU (6-18, 3-17 NSIC) celebrated Senior Day on Saturday at the BSU Gymnasium, honoring the trio of Isabel Majewski, Amme Sheforgen and Sam Pogatchnik. That triad started the contest and provided three of Bemidji State's top five scorers against SMSU (16-10, 14-6 NSIC).

"They're all very unique in their own way," said head coach Chelsea Stoltenberg. "(Majewski) came for five years and came in as a shooter knowing that was her role, just being a great teammate within that. Amme's a kid who hasn't played until this year and then now is looked on as one of our bigger defenders and scorers. And then Sam has played the last two years and is one of those gritty, tough players that is going to go get rebounds, guard tough and find a way to score. All unique kids that have grinded it out through their careers."

Yet later in the first quarter, the Beavers rolled out a lineup of freshmen Sage Ganyo, Ashlynne Guenther, Tieryn Plasch and Rachel Koenig to accompany Pogatchnik. Clearly, the future is coming soon for BSU, and in many ways, it's already here.

All four of those freshmen got in the score book, and sophomore Alyssa Hill led Bemidji State with 13 points.

"We have a lot of young kids on the team that are getting some really good experience that we'll hopefully build on and be ready to go in the years to come," Stoltenberg said. "... Veteran teams win in this league, and that's definitely not us. And you can see that. Even (in) close games, veteran teams typically have an advantage, so the experience that our younger women are getting is going to be huge for us going forward."

The Beavers have been eliminated from playoff contention, so next weekend's games against Winona State and Minnesota State will be their final two of the year. As BSU looks to finish out this season and build toward the next one, its focus remains on playing the right way. That was the key to the Beavers' resurgence as they won three of four games over the previous two weekends.

"That first half, we didn't stick to the script of what's on the board and what's on the scout and what we practiced to do," Stoltenberg said. "That second half, we did. And they still hit some shots and they did some nice things, but we competed with them and won the half. Which is too little too late, of course, but we played the right brand of basketball that second half. Against that good of a team, you can't have two (different) halves."

Southwest Minnesota State 78, Bemidji State 65

SMSU 16 22 30 10 — 78

BSU 13 7 25 20 — 65

BEMIDJI STATE — Hill 13, Pogatchnik 9, Sheforgen 9, Ganyo 8, Majewski 8, Plasch 6, Koenig 4, Barrette 3, Suprenand 3, Guenther 2. Totals: 24-54 FGs, 8-18 3-pt. FGs, 9-11 FTs.

SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA STATE — Stoltzman 20, Gehloff 14, Blandin 11, Parsley 10, Wall 10, Wagner 7, Thorfinnson 6. Totals: 28-60 FGs, 11-27 3-pt. FGs, 11-18 FTs.