This Week: The Bemidji State University men’s basketball closes a three-game homestand with travel partner University of Minnesota Duluth Feb. 5 at 4 p.m. at BSU Gymnasium.
About Bemidji State: The Beavers are 7-12 overall and 4-11 in NSIC play to sit 13th in the league. BSU is on a season-long six-game losing streak, falling most recently at home to University of Mary (71-60) and Northern State University (84-82). BSU got off to a quick 11-3 start against U-Mary, but the Marauders came back with a 15-6 run and took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the game. The Beavers shot just 37 percent from the floor, marking the second consecutive game shooting under 40 percent. Fifty-nine combined fouls dictated the pace of the game between BSU and NSU. The Wolves ended the game shooting 39-for-49 from the free throw line, tying the NSIC record for free throws made set in 1971. The Beavers had 33 fouls called on them, tying the program record. The Beavers were ahead by five at the half and increased the lead to eight with seven minutes to go in regulation, but NSU went on a 15-8 run to take a one point lead with 7:34 left it wouldn’t let go. BSU got out of its shooting funk with a 54.2 percentage from the field, while shutting down NSU to a 39.2 percentage.
• BSU is No. 2 nationally (games thru Jan. 30) in free throw shooting this season, hitting at a 79.5 percent clip from the line. Sophomore Lance Rongstad is No. 16 nationally with a 89.7 percentage from the line.
• Tesdahl leads the NSIC and is 4th in the nation in assists, dishing out 6.1 per game. He has three 10+ assist games this season.
About Minnesota Duluth: After a 5-1 start to the conference season, the Bulldogs have lost nine straight and own a 5-10 record (7-12 overall) that sits tied for 10th in the NSIC. The losing skid was started by Bemidji State’s 101-76 victory Jan. 3 in Duluth. During the skid, UMD is getting outscored 87.9 to 71.8. Junior Ryan Rasmussen leads the team in scoring with 17.2 points per game. Sophomore Jake Hottenstine leads the team in rebounds with 4.9 per game, while standing as the only other Bulldog in double-figures with 13.4 points per game. UMD is shooting 43.3 percent from the field this season, while allowing its opponent to shoot 47.2 percent.
Series History: The Beavers own a 38-82 all-time record against Bulldogs. BSU is 3-2 in the last five games, winning three consecutive. BSU will look to sweep the season series for the second consecutive season. Earlier this season, the Beavers downed UMD 101-76 Jan. 3 in Duluth. BSU defeated the Bulldogs 98-90 last season at the BSU Gymnasium.
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).
Ellisor is leading the team in scoring with 16.1 points and 6.9 rebounds in 31.5 minutes, while shooting 55.9 percent from the field and going 58-for-73 (79.5%) 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, four players have combined for 12 games with 20 points or more, including sophomore Lance Rongstad’s 27 at St. Cloud State Jan. 14.
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: With a dish to senior Patrick Cassidy in the opening minutes of the 87-82 loss to No. 15 Minnesota State Jan. 21, junior Bryce Tesdahl became the school’s career assist leader (1976-present). The assist was the 315th of his career, surpassing David Lee (1984-88). This season he is first in the league and 4th in the nation in assists (6.1 apg). He has three 10+ assist games this season and five in his career. His 116 assists this season sits eighth on BSU’s top season assists chart.
Last season Tesdahl finished second in the NSIC in assists, averaging 5.1 assists per game. He totaled 137 assists in the season, finishing fourth on BSU’s all-time single-season chart.
BSU’s Top Career Assist Totals (1976-Present)
# Assists Player Seasons
1. 338 Bryce Tesdahl 2008-SA
Thanks for the Charity: The Beavers are the No. 2 team in the Division II nation in free throw percentage (as of the Jan. 30 NCAA Statistics Summary), shooting 79.5 percent from the charity stripe. Sophomore Lance Rongstad’s 89.7 percent guides the team and is 16th in the nation.
Battle for the Boards: In all seven of BSU’s wins this season it has outrebounded its opponent and owns a 7-3 record when doing so. But one category the Beavers have struggled in this season is the offensive glass. BSU is getting outrebounded 213-171 in offensive rebounds, resulting in a difference of 213-186 in second chance points.
Gotta Win the Close Ones: In a league as competitive as the NSIC, winning the close games is crucial to separate the non-playoff teams from the postseason contenders. This season, the Beavers are 1-6 in games decided by five points or less, pushing them to the 13th spot in the league standings.