This Week: The Bemidji State University men’s basketball team begins the second half of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference schedule at No. 15 Minnesota State University, Mankato and Southwest Minnesota State University Jan. 21-22. Both games are set to tip-off at 8 p.m.
About Bemidji State: The Beavers are 7-8 overall and 4-7 in NSIC play to sit tied for 10th in the league. BSU is coming off two tough road losses to St. Cloud State University (92-88 in overtime) and Concordia University, St. Paul (79-73). Junior Bryce Tesdahl hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 30 seconds remaining to send the game against SCSU into overtime, but NSIC Preseason Player of the Year Taylor Witt scored 10 of his 31 points in the extra session to hand the Huskies a victory. Tesdahl had 12 points and 10 assists for his third-career double-double. Sophomore Lance Rongstad added a season-high 27 for BSU. The Beavers held a halftime lead against CU, but a 15-0 early second half run by the Golden Bears gave them a led they wouldn’t relinquish.
• BSU is 4-4 on the road this season, outscoring its opponents 82.1-79.4.
• Head coach Matt Bowen hasn’t defeated MSU or SMSU while at BSU.
• The last time BSU defeated MSU was Jan. 18, 1969 in Mankato, Minn. by the score of 62-56.
• BSU is No. 5 nationally (as of Jan. 16) in free throw shooting this season, hitting at a 78.3 percent clip from the line. Rongstad’s 90% is 15th.
• Junior Bryce Tesdahl leads the NSIC and is 6th in the nation in assists, dishing out 6.1 per game. He needs just one assist to become BSU’s all-time career assist leader (as of 1976).
About Minnesota State: The Mavericks are No. 15 in the nation, owning a 13-2 overall and 9-2 NSIC record, good for first in the league standings. Senior Jefferson Mason leads the team in scoring with 18.5 points per game that also sits third in the conference. He is also bringing down a team-best 7.5 rebounds per game. Senior Marcus Hill is averaging 16.1 points and 4.5 assists per game. Minnesota State was on a six-game winning streak before falling to University of Mary 84-69 Jan. 15.
Series History: The Beavers are 33-61 all-time against Minnesota State and are winless in the last 21 contests, dating back to Jan. 18, 1969 in Mankato, Minn. when BSU won by the score of 62-56. The then-No. 5 Mavericks downed BSU 105-66 last season at Bresnan Arena.
About Southwest Minnesota State: The Mustangs are 6-9 overall and 3-8 in conference play to hold the 12th spot in the league standings. SMSU has lost its last four games and are 1-8 in the last nine, but tout a 5-1 home record this season. Sophomore Jordan Miller is averaging 15.5 points per game to lead the team. Senior Scott Roehl owns 14.9 points and a team-high 9.5 rebounds per game.
Series History: The Beavers are 33-50 all-time against the Mustangs and are 0-7 in the last seven meetings. Last season in Marshall, SMSU downed BSU 71-67.
NSIC Preseason Poll: The Bemidji State University men’s basketball team finished last season winners in five of its last six games, en route to a 12-15 overall and 8-12 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference mark, good for 11th place in the final conference standings. The 12 wins was the most under fifth-year head coach Matt Bowen, as BSU has increased its win total in each of his seasons at the helm. On Oct. 20, the 2010-11 edition of the NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll was released, slotting the Beavers 10th with 64 points.
BSU’s NSIC Preseason Player to Watch: Patrick Cassidy is the lone senior on a team that sports four juniors (two transfers), eight sophomores and four freshmen. He will be asked to provide leadership on and off the court, while concentrating on being consistent offensively and defensively. Last season Cassidy played and started in 26 games, averaging 26.3 minutes per contest. He posted 8.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 51.2 percent from the field. Cassidy has endured the growing pains of a Bemidji State basketball program that has improved its record in each of the last four seasons, going 12-15 last season. He has played in 80 games in the green in white, averaging 7.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, while shooting 48.1 percent from the field.
Making Strides: Head coach Matt Bowen has increased BSU’s win total every season over his past four years. The Beavers won five games in his first campaign, six in his second, eight in 2008-09 and 12 last season. In 2009-10, the eight NSIC victories the Beavers totalled was the most conference wins under Bowen.
Welcome to BSU: The Beavers welcome six newcomers to the squad this season, including two junior college transfers. Coming to Bemidji via Glendale Community College are James Ellisor and Ryan Kinnell. Four true freshmen join the squad from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Alaska in Zach Noreen (Albany HS, Minn.), Maxie Rosenbloom (Johnson HS, Minn.), Jake Schalow (Kaukauna HS, Wis.) and Jeff Whicker (King HS, Alaska).
In his first 15 games as a Beaver, Ellisor is leading the team in scoring with 16.9 points and 7.1 rebounds in 31.1 minutes, while shooting 55.7 percent from the field and going 52-for-64 (81.3%) from the charity stripe. He scored 25 points in the opener, adding a team-high six rebounds.
Roaring 20’s: Ellisor has six games scoring the 20’s, including a 27 point performance in a win against Northern State Dec. 17. Last season BSU had 15 games with an individual in the 20’s, led by Seth Haake’s eight. This season, three players have combined for 10 games with 20 points or more, including sophomore Lance Rongstad’s 27 at St. Cloud State.
900 Program Wins: In a 88-63 victory against Minnesota, Crookston at the BSU Gymnasium Dec. 4 the Beavers recorded their 900th program win.
Century Mark: The Beavers eclipsed the 100 point mark Jan. 3 in a 101-76 road rout of Minnesota Duluth. The accomplishment marked the 57th time in program history and third time under head coach Matt Bowen BSU has reached the century mark. It was just the 11th time the team has scored 100 points or more on the road.
Doubling-Up: Four different Beavers have combined for seven double-doubles this season. Last season the team produced just two.
• Junior Bryce Tesdahl recorded his second-career double-double with a team-high 23 points and 10 assists at Finlandia Nov. 17.
His second double-double of the season came in an overtime loss to St. Cloud State Jan. 14. He scored 12 points and added 10 assists.
• Junior James Ellisor recorded his first double-double as a Beaver versus UW-Stout Nov. 23, scoring 13 points and adding 11 rebounds. His second double-double came in an 83-80 loss to Upper Iowa Dec. 11, scoring 21 points and adding 11 rebounds.
In a 63-53 win against WSC Jan. 9, he recorded 14 points and a season-high 13 rebounds.
• Sophomore Mason Walters earned his first-career double-double Jan. 3 at Minnesota Duluth, posting career-highs in points (19) and rebounds (11).
• Sophomore Lance Rongstad recorded a career-high 13 rebounds at Minnesota Duluth Jan. 3, while adding 11 points for his second-career double-double.
Helping Hand: Last season Tesdahl finished second in the NSIC in assists, averaging 5.1 assists per game. He totaled 137 assists in the season, finishing third on BSU’s all-time single-season chart. This season he is first in the league and 6th in the nation in assists and currently, his 314 career assists ranks tied for first on BSU’s career list (1976-present). He has two 10 assist games this season, marking his third-and-forth-career games with 10 or more helpers, ranking tied for ninth on the BSU single-game chart.
BSU’s Top Career Assist Totals (1976-Present)
# Assists Player Seasons
1. 314 David Lee 1984-88
314 Bryce Tesdahl 2008-SA
Thanks for the Charity: The Beavers are the No. 5 team in the Division II nation in free throw percentage (as of the Jan. 16 NCAA Statistics Summary), shooting 78.3 percent from the charity stripe. Sophomore Lance Rongstad’s 90.0 percent guides the team and is 15th in the nation.
Battle for the Boards: In all seven of BSU’s wins this season it has outrebounded its opponent and owns a 7-1 record when doing so. But one category the Beavers are lost in this season is the offensive glass. BSU is getting outrebounded 177-128 in offensive rebounds, resulting in a difference of 163-136 in second chance points.
Stay Inside the Arc: In conference play, the Beavers are second in the league in field goal percentage, making 46.8 percent of their shots. On the other side of the 3-point line the same BSU squad is 8th, shooting 34.2 percent from beyond the arc. The Beavers were last in the 3-point shooting category two weeks ago, but have since gone 43 percent (34-of-79) from beyond the arc. In the league rankings, junior James Ellisor is 3rd (58.6%) and senior Patrick Cassidy is 5th (55.7%).
Road Warriors: BSU is 4-4 on the road this season. The last time the Beavers finished the season with an above .500 record on the road was when the 2003-04 team went 9-6 away from the BSU Gymnasium. The Beavers are outscoring their opponent on the road 82.1-79.4 in 2010-11.
Avoid the Losing Streak: Last season the Beavers went on a seven game losing streak from Dec. 13-Jan. 15, thwarting their chances at a playoff spot and resulting in a 4-10 record when losing the game before. This season, BSU has been able to stop the bleeding by owning a 5-2 record when losing the previous contest.