MANKATO, Minn. – Senior guard Dermaine Crockrell posted 22 of his career-high 29 points in the second half to lift Bemidji State to an 82-74 road upset of No. 5 Minnesota State-Mankato Friday in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game. The victory handed the Beavers a three-game winning streak and improved their record to 12-9 overall and 10-7 in league play.
“In the first half we gave them a lot, but the second half was a business-like performance, there weren’t any high, emotional outbursts or emotionally low points in the game where we felt bad about ourselves,” said head coach Mike Boschee. “It’s nice to get a quality win against the NSIC South. It’s a huge, solid win for us. I couldn’t be happier for our guys, they worked hard for this.”
The Beavers erased a five-point halftime deficit with four 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the second frame and posted a 16-7 run to take a 47-43 lead — a lead it wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the game — en route to a 51-point half. In addition to draining the long ball in the second frame, the Beavers got up and down the floor for easy buckets and frustrated the Mavericks into turnovers that led to 13 points off MSU miscues.
The win marks the first victory against a ranked opponent under Boschee and just the fifth win against a nationally-ranked foe in the last eight years. BSU is now 1-2 this season against national-ranked opponents. Bemidji State’s last victory against a top 25 team came in the regular season finale a season ago against then-No. 22 Winona State. BSU defeated the Warriors 94-84 to claim the outright NSIC Regular Season Championship.
Crockrell went 11-for-22 (50%) from the field, 4-of-8 (50%) from 3-point land and a perfect 3-for-3 from the charity stripe. He added eight rebounds, five assists and two steals.
“I’ve said it all year long, for us to be successful, Dermaine needs to play at a high-level,” Boschee added.
Senior Mason Walters was the first half spark, as he posted 13 of his 17 points in the first 20 minutes. Junior guard Jake Schalow provided the scoring jolt off the bench with 10 points on 2-of-3 shooting, all from beyond the arc. Senior Lance Rongstad contributed in all facets of the game with eight points, a career-high seven assists, five steals (tied career-best) and four rebounds.
The Beavers shot 50.8 percent from the field and went 10-for-23 (43.5%) from 3-point land, while shooting a cool 12-for-14 (85.7%) from the free throw line. BSU coughed up seven turnovers in the first half, but allowed just four in the second half, while forcing eight-second half Maverick turnovers and 15 total.
Neither team held a lead as large as four in the first half until MSU opened the five-point advantage at the break. The game was tied on eight occasions and the lead changed hands nine times in the first 20 minutes. A Rongstad layup with three minutes remaining handed the Beavers a 29-27 advantage, but a 9-2 run by the Mavericks to end the half gave the home team the edge. Heading into the game, BSU was just 1-6 when trailing at the half.
After hitting four shots from beyond the arc in the entire first half, the Beavers knocked down four 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the second frame. Junior forward Zach Noreen got it started, then a Crockrell dagger gave BSU a lead. A 5-0 run by MSU gave it a four-point advantage, but Crockrell again struck from downtown and started a 15-4 run to hand the road team a 52-45 lead with 14:07 left.
In the first six minutes of the half, Crockrell tallied 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting and added two rebounds, an assist and a steal.
The Beaver lead went to 11 at 59-48 with 11:57 to play, capped by a Walters lay-up. Five points from Schalow between the 9:45 and 8:12 marks kept the Beavers at a double-digit lead at 66-56, then a Crockrell tip-in pushed the advantage to 12 with 7:52 remaining in regulation.
The Mavericks didn’t go away, facing their third loss on their home court this season, and put together a 7-0 run to quickly cut the deficit to five at 68-63 with 5:24 showing on the game clock. Faced with another late-game test against one of the top teams in the conference, the Beavers were able to keep their temper and used senior leadership to post a 4-0 run on a jumper from Crockrell and a lay-up from senior guard Jason Edwards.
MSU again responded with a 4-0 run to get back to a five-point difference, but Walters ended the push with a lay-up and a pair of Crockrell free throws gave the road team a nine-point lead at 76-67 with 2:33 remaining. The lead would be good enough to last to the end, as the Beavers celebrated an eight-point win in the end.
The Beavers head to Concordia-St. Paul Saturday for a 6 p.m. tilt against the Golden Bears.