The University of Minnesota Crookston (UMC) Golden Eagles Men’s Basketball team opened up Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) play with a 67-57 win over the Bemidji State Beavers on Tuesday night. UMC also honored the program’s all-time winningest coach, Gary Senske, by having a ribbon-cutting ceremony at halftime to mark the re-naming of the court to “Gary Senske Court”.

The UMC defense gave Bemidji State all kinds of problems early, as the Beavers started the game ice-cold shooting, only making three of their first 15 shots to allow UMC to take an 18-11 lead through the first nine minutes of the game. “I thought we did a good job coming out ready to play,” said UMC Head Coach Dan Weisse. “We had a lot of energy tonight and it showed right from the start.” Bemidji State would then go on a 9-0 run to take a 20-18 lead with 6:55 remaining in the first half. The Golden Eagles countered with a 13-2 run to take the lead back 31-22. The run was led by back-to-back baskets from Zach Westphal (Sr. West Fargo, N.D.) two jumpers from Leonard Dixon (Jr. Damascus, Or), and a layup by Brian Sitzmann (Sr. Savage) The teams would trade baskets the remainder of the half. Brian Sitzman (Sr. Savage) hit a jumper with 25 seconds left, and Bemidji state responded with a basket as time expired, giving UMC a 33-28 lead heading into the halftime break.

Uzo Dibiamaka  (Soph. Adelaide, South Australia) came out firing in the second half for the Golden Eagles, scoring the first six points of the half and helping UMC extend the lead to 41-31 after a layup from Nathaniel Powell (Soph. Nottingham, England). Leonard Dixon (Jr. Damascus, Or) then picked off a pass and threw down a dunk giving the Golden Eagles their largest lead of the game at 43-31 with 16:57 remaining. The teams started to cool off once again, and after a layup from Leonard Dixon (Jr. Damascus, Or) UMC would hold a 47-33 lead with 14:57 left to play. The Beavers refused to go away, going on a 14-4 run over the span of seven minutes to cut the UMC lead to 51-47 with 7:10 left. UMC was in the need of an answer and Leonard Dixon (Jr. Damascus, Or) once again provided it, splashing in a three-point shot to put an end to the run. Up 58-53, Dixon would rattle off four straight points to put UMC ahead 62-53 with 4:01 left to play. Bemidji State applied some pressure, but the Golden Eagles took care of the basketball and made a few free throws down the stretch to secure a 67-57 win in the NSIC opener. “I was proud of our guy’s composer tonight,” said UMC Head Coach Dan Weisse. “They never flinched at the end of the game and sometimes you have to tell me to calm down on the sidelines, but tonight I didn’t have to tell our guys to calm down on the court. They did what they needed to do to get the job done.”

UMC outrebounded Bemidji State 50-34 and forced the Beavers into their season-low in points (57) and FG% (33.8%) “Rebounding was huge for us tonight and we did a great job handling their bigs down low,” said UMC Head Coach Dan Weisse. “I can’t remember a game since I’ve been the Head Coach where we had that many rebounds. We knew we were in for a physical hard-fought game and I’m proud of the way our guys competed tonight. Glad we could honor Coach Senske and compete hard for forty minutes and get the win.”

The Golden Eagles move to 2-3 (1-0 in the NSIC) on the season and will travel to Aberdeen South Dakota this weekend for games against Presentation College, and Midwestern State University. Bemidji State drops to 2-1 (0-1 in the NSIC) with the loss.

Pictures of the game and ribbon-cutting ceremony for Gary Senske can be found down below –

  1st  2nd  Final
Bemidji State 28 29 57
Minnesota Crookston 33 34 67


For UMC Points Rebounds Assists/Steals
Leonard Dixon 19 9 5 assists/2 steals
Uzo Dibiamaka 13 5 3 assists/2 blocks
Brian Sitzmann 9 5 3 assists
Ethan Channel 9 2
Zach Westphal 9 2
Nathaniel Powell 4 3
Zen Goodridge 2 9
Marcus Thompson 2 3 2 assists