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Vikings deliver knockout blow to Beavers with unstoppable early surge

Jan. 19—BEMIDJI — The Bemidji State basketball team ran into a freight train on Friday night at the BSU Gymnasium.

It was big. It was fast. And it came from Augustana. The Vikings jumped on the Beavers early in the contest and never relented, generating a 20-point first-half lead after BSU scored the game's first four points. Bemidji State couldn't find a satisfactory counter in a 98-77 loss.

"They came at us and smacked us pretty good," said BSU head coach Mike Boschee. "We didn't respond very well to it. Augustana's a really good team, though. One through 10, really talented players, and they have the ability to do that. They shot it well, played physically and rebounded it unbelievably well. Beat us on the glass pretty much everywhere, and then we didn't shoot it at all."

The Vikings finished with identical halves of 54.3% shooting — they went 19 for 35 in each frame. The Beavers couldn't find a way to slow Augie's blend of paint points and sweet shooting from the outside.

"They had 16 points off second-chance opportunities at halftime," Boschee said. "That's just way too much to give up. Give them credit. They were more physical, they were more active, they got to the glass. They wanted it more in there. They just punched us in the face in all phases. To be honest with you, I don't think Augustana can play much better, and I don't think we've played that poorly all year."

Bemidji State entered Friday fifth in the NSIC standings. Augustana sat in seventh place. But the Vikings had blown out their last three conference opponents by at least 20 points each, and now, they have another one to add to the list.

"It's pretty obvious," Boschee said. "You look at them, they've got talent up and down the lineup. When you have (Isaac) Fink and (Jadan) Graves going off on the outside, and then (Caden) Hinker dominating inside, it's just a really, really good basketball team that played at a high level tonight.

That aforementioned trio combined for 65 of Augie's points, nearly two-thirds of the Vikings' total. Though it may not have looked like it on paper, the Beavers ended up facing what may be one of the best teams in a deep NSIC.

"It's really hard (to match up with them)," Boschee said. "We can start big, but we're not as big as they are (when we substitute). That size really helped them be more physical and helped them dominate the boards the way they did too."

Yet now that BSU has seen Augustana's best, it should be more prepared the next time it gets taken aback by another team.

"We'll know if we're not ready to go and we're not ready to play a physical game in that environment where a team comes at you and smacks you in the face," Boschee said. "We'll know what we have to do. And hopefully, that in itself will be a good learning experience."

Augustana 98, Bemidji State 77

AUG 50 48 — 98

BSU 30 47 — 77

BEMIDJI STATE — Sutherland 20, Albrecht 12, Dayley 12, Olson 9, Pecarich 8, Davis 7, Tennyson 4, Ijadimbola 3, Josephson 2. Totals: 28-66 FGs, 6-25 3-pt. FGs, 15-22 FTs.

AUGUSTANA — Fink 25, Graves 21, Hinker 19, Kirkman 12, Helgren 7, Akoi 4, Lewis 4, Bear 3, Laube 2, Rensch 1. Totals: 38-70 FGs, 8-22 3-pt. FGs, 14-16 FTs.