Bemidji State drops 2006-07 exhibition opener to Minnesota, 88-32
Friday, November 3, 2006
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Williams Arena) -- In the eight months since the Bemidji State University men’s basketball team last took the floor a lot has changed.  First-year head coach Matt Bowen took over the reigns of the program and was faced with the challenge of completely reloading the line up and coaching staff.  Friday evening the new-look Beavers took to the raised floor of Williams Arena to battle the University of Minnesota in exhibition play.  The Golden Gophers defeated BSU 88-32.

The overmatch, undersized Beavers struggled all evening to get in the flow of their game, shooting just .224 on the night (11-49) while turning the ball over 31 times--a stat that would lead 34 UM points.

“We were out-matched and out-muscled in every area of the game tonight,” commented Bowen after the game. “But that is to be expected when you jump up a division and play a team that is physically a little better.”

“We were trying to get our players to do the simple things--pass, catch and square up to the basket.  I thought as we stopped looking at the scoreboard and just started playing the game, we made some improvements.”

With the score aside, matching up with a team like Minnesota in one of the greatest collegiate basketball venues in the country was a positive experience for Bowen and his team.

“To play in the a Williams Arena, Big Ten-type atmosphere is something that our players will probably never forget.”

Marques Ramos (Jr., F, Henderson, Nev.) led the Beavers netting 11 points while Daniel Sowu (Sr., G, Chicago, Ill.) added eight and Alex Smith (Jr., F, Miami, Fla.) scored five.

Smith and James Gibson (So., G, Miami, Fla.) each grabbed five rebounds and despite his six-foot-two frame, Gibson collected a pair of blocks.  Arron Evans (Jr., G, Minneapolis, Minn.) posted a game-high three steals in 38 minutes of play.

Minnesota was led by a 21-point effort by Lawrence Westbrook while Engen Nurumbi hauled in a total of 13 rebounds to lead all players.

Although the Beavers came out of the blocks a little shaky, after 2:24 Smith netted a jumper in the lane to close the BSU deficit to 7-5, but Minnesota would hold BSU scoreless during the next 5:16 while it extended its lead to 22-5.  Evans corralled a tipped Golden Gopher pass and took it the length of the floor to end the drought with 11:07 to go in the half.

With 3:29 minutes to play in the first, a Minnesota foul put Sowu on the line.  His free-throws snapped 7:59 scoreless stretch and sparked a five-point run when he followed them up with a triple the next trip down the floor to bring the score to 42-12 but that was all the Beavers would muster in the half as the Gophers to a 51-12 lead into the halftime break.

In the half the Golden Gophers were 20-of-31 from the floor (.620).  BSU held its own on the glass hauling in 16 rebounds to Minnesota’s 19, but hit just four of 25 shots in the stanza. Minnesota also too better care of the ball forcing 22 turnovers while committing just nine.

Minnesota came out of the break to pile 10 points on the score before Ramos got the Beavers on the board in the second half making good on a three-point play with 16:00 on the clock.  Forty seconds later he made the score 61-18 with one of his team-best two three-pointers.

Minnesota’s Jamal Abu-Shamala entered the game with 14:40 on the clock and would quickly compile all 12 of his points going 4-for-4 form beyond the arc before stepping off the floor for the night with 8:04 to play and the score at 75-23.

The Gophers went on to cruise to the 88-32 victory.

The game marked the first meeting between Bemidji State and Minnesota.

BSU is now 0-12 all-time versus NCAA Divison I programs including an 0-5 mark during the last three seasons.

The Beavers are now off until Nov. 15 when they kick off a stretch of four games in six days to lift the lid in the 2006-07 regular season.  BSU begins the strand at University of Minnesota Duluth Nov. 15 before loading a jet for a pair of games at Unage.  Nov. 21 the team returns to Bemidji for its home opener versus University of Wisonsin-Stout.