MANKATO, Minn. – The Bemidji State University men’s basketball hung with the No. 15 team in the nation, Minnesota State University, Mankato Friday night at Bresnan Arena, but felt the heartbreak of another close loss as the Mavericks downed the Beavers 87-82 in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game. Junior Bryce Tesdahl (G, Crosby, Minn.) established the school’s all-time assist record in the game, recording his 315th career assist in the opening minutes of the game.The Beavers (7-9, 4-8 NSIC) had multiple chances to steal an upset from Mavericks (14-2, 10-2 NSIC), but it wasn’t in the cards as go-ahead and tying shots rattled out. BSU had two possessions to take a lead with under two minutes to go in regulation when the game was tied 80-80. The first opportunity seemed like a sure thing with sophomore Lance Rongstad (F, Eleva, Wis.) at the free throw line. Rongstad entered the game shooting 90 percent from the charity stripe and was ranked No. 15 in the nation in the category, but his two shots from the line didn’t fall and the Mavericks had an opportunity to take a lead.
Before MSU attempted a shot, junior James Ellisor (F, Glendale, Ariz.) stole the ball, but gave it back moments later. After a missed 3-point attempt MSU grabbed an offensive rebound. After setting-up a play and getting underneath, Rongstad fouled Jefferson Mason and he converted on his two free throws. On the ensuing possession Tesdahl turned the ball over and that resulted in a Maverick dunk. Down four BSU rushed down the court and got a quick lay-up from senior Patrick Cassidy (F, St. Paul, Minn.) with 18 ticks remaining. A foul on the inbound pass put the Mavericks at the line to ice the contest. The first one dropped, but the second one caromed off the rim to Rongstad.
He got the ball to Tesdahl who brought it up court and handed it off to the hot hand of the night, junior Jake Lindstrom (G, Cottage Grove, Minn.). His game-tying shot rattled in and out and the rebound went to MSU. Two good free throw shots put the game away and BSU suffered yet another close loss.
Lindstrom led the team in points with 21, shooting 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Cassidy totaled 18 points and five rebounds. Ellisor was 7-of-9 from the field and scored 17 points, adding a season-high six assists and four rebounds. Tesdahl had 10 points and nine assists with seven rebounds. Tesdahl passed David Lee (1984-88) for the all-time assist record (since 1976). Sophomore Burke Lendl (G/F, St. Michael, Minn.) went 8-for-8 from the line and finished with 10 points. BSU shot 52.7 percent from the field and 53.8 from 3-point land. MSU shot 50.9 percent from the field and made 26-of-31 shots from the free throw line.
The Beavers jumped on the Mavericks and took an early 10-5 lead with Cassidy scoring all 10 BSU points. The Mavericks then came back and took a 11-10 lead. BSU responded with a couple buckets and the teams proceeded to trade baskets.
With 3:30 remaining in the half two non-calls resulted in steal and fast break by the Mavericks. Mason picked-up the loose ball and drove it to the hoop, getting the shot to fall and drawing a foul. The 3-point play handed MSU a 37-34 lead. BSU responded, but a 3-pointer from the Mavericks made it 40-36. Lindstrom then erased it with a 3-pointer of his own and it was a one point game again.
Four free throws from Mason and a two-pointer from Ellisor put the score at 44-41 with 30 seconds remaining and MSU ball. The Beavers played good defense on the shot, but failed to clean-up the rebound and a put-back with two seconds left put BSU down 46-41 heading into the locker room.
BSU shot 62.5 percent from the field in the half, but the Mavericks were at 57.1 percent from the field to stay in the shootout. The Beavers were 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and a perfect 7-of-7 form the line.
The Mavericks came out in the second half and went on a 9-2 run to own a 55-43 lead. The run was capped by two free throws after a technical foul was called on Bowen. The technical lit a fire under the Beavers as they battled back and went on a 19-7 run to tie the contest at 62-62 with 11:51 to go, forcing a Maverick timeout.
The Beavers came out of the timeout and got a stop on the defensive end and followed it up with two free throws with Lendl, giving the Beavers its first lead since midway through the first half. Four free throws gave the Mavericks the two-point lead, but a Lindstrom dagger from beyond the arc retook the lead for the road team at 67-66. MSU responded with a quick 6-0 run to own a 72-67 advantage with six minutes remaining in regulation.
The run didn’t discourage the Beavers and it came out of a timeout with an upset on the mind. As quick as BSU got down, the Beavers responded quicker and a 9-0 run handed BSU a 76-72 lead with under four minutes showing on the clock. The run included a 3-point play by Tesdahl and a fastbreak bucket by Lindstrom.
The Beavers maintained a small lead, responded to every Maverick basket until two free throws from MSU’s Marcus Hill knotted the game at 80-80 with 2:03 left. The Beavers complete a four-game road trip Jan. 22 at Southwest Minnesota State University at 8 p.m.
Bemidji State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).