Bemidji State men’s basketball team begins final nine games with national playoffs in picture

Jake Schalow and the Bemidji State men's basketball team travels to U-Mary and Northern State this weekend. Photo via BSU Photo Services.

The Bemidji State men’s basketball team is 14-5 overall (9-4 NSIC) heading into the final nine games of the season and in position to make a run at a national tournament berth.

When asked about that potential this week, BSU head coach Matt Bowen offered up a joking impression of former quotable National Football League coach Jim Mora.

“Playoffs?,” he said.

Bowen then turned serious and admitted the Beavers have to acknowledge playoff potential because of where it sits at this point in the year. The Beavers received one vote in this week’s Division II top 25 poll and are tied for third place in the Northern Sun standings with MSU, Moorhead heading into this weekend’s conference games at U-Mary (Friday, 8 p.m.) and at Northern State (Saturday, 8 p.m.).

“Between now and the next 30 days, that’s what counts,” Bowen said. “It’s great to be in the conversation, to be mentioned and to be talked about. Not all of the teams are going to make it to the national tournament. Some achieve it and some falter. That’s the greatest challenge we have in front of us.”

BSU is on a three-game winning streak after defeating MSU, Mankato and Southwest Minnesota State last weekend at BSU Gymnasium. Senior forward James Ellisor averaged 30 points per game and was named the NSIC Player of the Week. He was 24-of-29 from the field last weekend, and was 11-for-12 against the Mustangs.

“He went crazy and I don’t know how else to put it,” Bowen said. “He had a special weekend. He was really, really good. He’s our senior, he’s one of the best players in the league and that’s what you expect. He took it to another level and it was fun to watch.”

This weekend’s games are rematches from earlier this season at BSU Gymnasium. The Beavers defeated Northern State 88-59 on Dec. 16 and U-Mary 82-61 on Dec. 17.

Northern State enters the weekend 10-7 (6-7 NSIC) and U-Mary is 4-13 (3-10 NSIC).

“It’s going to become increasingly difficult,” Bowen said of the final nine games. “I feel good about our team because we have seniors, experience, a good group of guys, the chemistry is great and James is a pretty special player. I think things are going in the right direction but we’ll find out this weekend.”

BSU women

The Bemidji State women’s basketball team faces U-Mary on Friday and Northern State on Saturday. Both games are at 6 p.m.

The Beavers enter the weekend 7-11 (5-8 NSIC) after sweeping last weekend’s games against MSU, Mankato and Southwest Minnesota State. The wins ended an eight-game losing streak dating back to Dec. 16.

BSU sophomore Morgan Lee scored 21 points in the 72-71 win against Mankato last Friday, which ended the Mavericks’ eight-game winning streak. She followed with a 20-point game in the 77-54 win against SMSU the following night. It marked the first back-to-back 20-point games of her career.

The rematch this week features the opponents that started the losing streak, a 73-60 loss to Northern State and an 81-77 loss to U-Mary.

U-Mary enters the weekend 13-4 (10-3 NSIC) and Northern State is 11-8 (6-7 NSIC).

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