Bemidji State men’s basketball team hosts No. 21 St. Cloud State, Concordia-St. Paul and hope to shake winter trend

Lance Rongstad and the Bemidji State men's basketball team hosts No. 21 St. Cloud State and Concordia-St. Paul this weekend at BSU Gymnasium. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

The Bemidji State men’s basketball team comes face-to-face this weekend with a trend it would like to break.

The Beavers want to continue its winning ways into the heart of the season beginning with Friday’s game against No. 21 St. Cloud State (8 p.m.) and Saturday’s game against Concordia-St. Paul (6 p.m.) at BSU Gymnasium.

Winning in January and February have been elusive for BSU in recent years with losing streaks of seven games in two of the last three seasons.

“It’s a huge home stand for us and I guess the old saying is if you don’t learn from history, you’re doomed to repeat it,” BSU head coach Matt Bowen said. “The last two years historically we’ve lost the next seven in a row. I’d just like to not lose seven in a row. I might be setting my goals low.”

For this team it might.

The Beavers are 11-4 (6-3 NSIC) and have not lost any of its six home games this season. BSU is fourth in the conference standings, one game back of St. Cloud State in third, and two games back of NSIC-leading MSU, Moorhead and Winona State.

“I’m confident we’re not the Bemidji State team of the past and more of the hunted as opposed to the hunter,” Bowen said. “We have to continue to execute well, play with a chip on our shoulder and play well on defense. If we can continue to do that, then you let the chips fall where they may. It’s been fun so far.”

Bemidji State’s only losses this season have come to nationally ranked teams. The latest was a heartbreaking 103-93 double overtime loss to then No. 21 Augustana last Saturday night to end a four-game winning streak. The Beavers had the win within reach until Cody Schilling hit a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer at the end of regulation to force overtime.

The Beavers made the 120-mile trip to Nebraska overnight and bounced back from the loss by defeating Wayne State 67-61 on Sunday.

“I was very proud of our team,” Bowen said. “We didn’t play particularly well on Sunday and it’s very difficult to come off such and emotional high and low, and to have the game absolutely ripped away from us in the last eight seconds. That’s really difficult to come back from. To do that on the longest road trip of the year and get a split was a big accomplishment for our team.”

Concordia enters the weekend 6-7 (3-6 NSIC). St. Cloud State (11-2, 7-2 NSIC) saw its five-game winning streak end last Sunday with an 87-77 loss to Winona State. The Huskies only other loss this season came on the road in an 85-81 loss to Southwest Minnesota State.

“I look at St. Cloud and I think we have very similar teams – teams that really like to get to the free throw line, run a deliberate offense and really try to take care of the ball,” Bowen said. “There should really be some good athletes out there and hopefully we can keep our home streak going.”

Women’s basketball

The Bemidji State women face St. Cloud State at 6 p.m. Friday and Concordia-St. Paul at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

The Beavers enter the weekend 5-9 (3-6 NSIC) and are looking to snap what has turned into a season long, six-game losing streak.

BSU was defeated by national poll vote-getter Augustana 91-69 and No. 8 Wayne State 74-49 on the road last week.

Morgan Lee, Kate Warmack and Shannon Thompson lead BSU into the series as Bemidji State’s top scorers. Le is averaging 12.4 points per game, Warmack 12.1 and Shannon Thompson 11.

Concordia enters the weekend 6-9 (3-6 NSIC) and St. Cloud State is 6-7 (3-6 NSIC).

Follow Eric Stromgren on Twitter at @estromgren and on Facebook.

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