SCSU men’s basketball earns share of North Division title

It wasn’t Kevin Schlagel’s final game at Halenbeck Hall.

But with a postgame ceremony to honor his final season as St. Cloud State’s head coach, it felt like a fitting tribute that his team earned a share of the NSIC North Division championship on Saturday night.

The Huskies dominated Bemidji State from start to finish in a convincing 92-60 win in front of 2,068 fans.

St. Cloud State (15-7 NSIC, 19-7 overall) earned a share of the division title with Bemidji (15-7, 18-8) and Minnesota State-Moorhead (15-7, 19-7), which had to go to overtime to beat the University of Mary 95-94.

The Huskies will open the NSIC Tournament as the North Division’s third seed since Moorhead and Bemidji owned the tie-breakers over them.

St. Cloud State will host the University of Sioux Falls (12-10, 15-11) in the first round at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Halenbeck.

“I don’t see why this team isn’t capable of going on a run,” Schlagel said. “If we play like this, we can play with anybody on our schedule. It’s tournament time and we have to get it done.”

St. Cloud State beat Sioux Falls 85-73 at Halenbeck back on Jan. 11.

After the game, Schlagel received a framed replica of his old jersey from his playing days at SCSU from 1972-76 and a mural of him and some of his memorable players from his 17 years on the job. A ceremony/roast was held in Halenbeck’s west balcony later on.

“This whole ceremony was pretty cool,” Schlagel said. “I’m very touched by it. I have to thank the university and (athletic director) Heather Weems for this.

“This community has been so good to me and my family. I can’t even put it into words.”

St. Cloud State point guard Jordan Poydras, who went off for 30 points against the Beavers, was glad his team could pull out a win for its coach on a special evening.

“This was his last regular season game and we wanted to send him out on a good note,” Poydras said. “It was Senior Night, too, and we didn’t forget that. Our mind-set the whole game was to go at them. I sprained my ankle against them the last time and didn’t play well. I was fortunate today.”

The Huskies led from start to finish, but Poydras’ outburst to begin the second half buried Bemidji. The sophomore hit three straight shots from beyond the arc from the 17:18 to 15:58 marks to put St. Cloud State up 52-33.

“Once I saw one or two go in, I knew it was going to be a long night for them. I was feeling it,” Poydras said.

Poydras ignited a 13-0 run that ended with a Damarius Cruz fastbreak layup with 14:55 to play. Cruz added 19 points, Matt Craggs had 14 points and nine rebounds and James Fort had 12 points and seven boards.

“This was a big night, especially for Coach Schlagel,” Cruz said. “I’ve learned a lot from him in the four years I’ve been here. He’s been a great leader and mentor for me.

“I was happy we could get a win for him.”

BEMIDJI STATE (60)

Brock Lutes 7-20 4-5 19, Zach Noreen 2-9 0-1 4, Maxie Rosenbloom 4-9 1-3 9 (11 rebounds), D.J. Hervy 0-2 0-0 0, Jake Schalow 2-7 2-2 8, Michael Farrington 3-7 2-2 8, Dillon Floyd 0-0 0-0 0, Brock Tesdahl 1-1 3-4 6, Scott Litchy 0-1 0-2 0, Ben Best 0-1 0-0 0, Shane White 1-1 0-0 2, Cody Risseeuw 1-2 0-0 2, Ellwood Ellenson 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: FG 22-61, FT 12-19, REB 38, PF 16, TO 11.

ST. CLOUD STATE (92)

Matt Craggs 6-11 0-0 14 (9 rebounds, 4 assists), Seth Mortag 0-4 0-0 0, Chris Larson 2-3 1-2 5, Jordan Poydras 9-15 7-7 30 (6 assists), Damarius Cruz 7-13 2-2 19, Scottie Stone 1-1 0-0 3, Preston McCourt 0-1 0-0 0, Jon Christensen 1-1 0-0 3, Tyson Kalien 0-1 0-0 0, Nigel Fowler-Canty 0-0 0-0 0, Connor Niehaus 2-6 2-2 6 (7 rebounds), James Fort 3-3 6-8 12 (7 rebounds). Totals: FG 31-59, FT 18-21, REB 37, PF 16, TO 5.

Halftime score: St. Cloud State 36, Bemidji State 25.

Andy Rennecke

About Andy Rennecke

A sports writer for the St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times newspaper who covers St. Cloud State athletics with a focus on football, women's basketball and men's basketball. I also cover the St. Cloud Rox of the Northwoods League. Follow Andy Rennecke at https://twitter.com/AndyRennecke
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