BEMIDJI, Minn. - Senior Patrick Cassidy (F, St. Paul, Minn.) had nine career 3-pointers at Bemidji State prior to the game against University of Wisconsin-Stout Tuesday, but hit a big one to tie the game with 1:05 remaining in regulation. With nine ticks on the clock, the calm, cool and collected veteran knocked down two free throws to guide the Beavers to an 89-87 nail-bitter victory.
“The way our offense is run, any guy can step up at any different moment and we had several step up tonight,” said head coach Matt Bowen. “Seniors make plays. It was really good for Pat. He doesn’t take many of them, but he was open and got his feet set. We needed kids to step up and make plays. (Bryce) Tesdahl made a very big three at the end of the game and obviously Cassidy with the three and two free throws, those were huge, huge points down the stretch because we were struggling. You have to give credit to UW-Stout. Their pace dictated the game and we were very fortunate to come out with a win.”
The win was the result of a complete team effort, as six Beavers were in double-figures in scoring, led by Cassidy’s 18. Junior transfer James Ellisor (Glendale, Ariz.) continued his strong play at BSU, recording his first double-double in the green and white with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Two of those boards came in the final minute and a half to allow BSU to tie and win the game. The game served as the regular season home opener for BSU, getting its first home opener win under Bowen and since the 2003-04 season.
The first 10 minutes of the first half was evenly matched between the two teams with neither squad seeing a lead more than five. A 3-pointer by UW-Stout tied the game with 10:30 remaining, but then it was all BSU for the next seven minutes. The Beavers went on a 16-6 run over 4:40 to take the 10 point lead. During the run, six different BSU players contributed points, including four from sophomore Burke Lendl (G/F, St. Michael, Minn.).
The Beavers (2-1, 0-0 NSIC) maintained a solid lead until the Blue Devils (2-1, 0-0 WIAC) made a late first half run. During the final 3:32 of the frame, UW-Stout cut a nine point deficit into being down two at the half at 44-42, holding the home team to just two points during the run.
BSU responded to start the second half and got out to a quick 11 point advantage at 55-44 with 16:42 left. The Blue Devils then found their rhythm on offense getting scoring underneath and from 3-point land. Three quick lay-ups by UW-Stout got the team rolling then hot shooting from beyond the arc turned the game from a run-a-way victory for BSU into a ball game. A 17-5 run by the road team made the scoreboard read 61-60 in favor of UW-Stout with 12:47 left in regulation, giving it its first lead since halfway through the first half.
The game went back to a back-and-forth affair with the lead changing five times and the score tied three times during the next nine minutes off the game clock. With the score knotted at 81 and 3:35 left, UW-Stout went on a 6-0 run to take a 87-81 lead with just 2:14 remaining. The six points came from two lay-ups and two free throws that were awarded after a technical was called on junior guard Jake Lindstrom (Cottage Grove, Minn.).
Their backs against the wall, the Beavers needed someone to step-up and hit a big shot. First it was junior guard Bryce Tesdahl (Crosby, Minn.) with a cold-blooded 3-pointer to cut the deficit in half with just under two minutes to play. On the ensuing possession, the Blue Devils attempted a three, but missed and Ellisor came down with the board. The Beavers came down the floor needing a bucket and after moving the ball around, Cassidy ended up wide open behind the 3-point line and drained just his 10th career 3-pointer to tied the game 87-87. UW-Stout looked to respond, but again were denied the go-ahead 3-point shot and Ellisor brought down another key rebound.
With 38 seconds remaining, the shot clock was just a few seconds ahead of the game clock, setting BSU up for nearly the final shot. The Beavers moved the ball around and wasted 29 seconds before finding Cassidy down low where he was hacked by multiple Blue Devils. The first free throw made a couple extra rotations around the rim, but eventually fell, while the second one dropped with ease and BSU was up 89-87. UW-Stout took a timeout to game plan, but it would be for not as the Blue Devils wasted too much time atop the key and was forced to take an off-balanced 3-pointer that would fall well short as the buzzer sounded.
Sophomore guard Noah Shepherd (Minneapolis, Minn.) earned his second consecutive start and scored a career-high 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. Lindstrom scored 13 points and added four rebounds and three assists. Tesdahl posted 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from 3-point land, while adding seven assists and five boards. Lendl added 10 points in the start, contributing seven rebounds as BSU outrebounded UW-Stout 37-33. The Beavers shot 52.4 percent from the floor and made nine 3-pointers. BSU got to the line twice as much as the Blue Devils, but were 14-for-18 (77.8%).
The Beavers complete their nonconference schedule Nov. 29, at 7:30 p.m. at Jamestown College.
Bemidji State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).