Beavers squeak out 85-78 victory at UMC to snap seven-game skid
Friday, February 11, 2011
Beavers squeak out 85-78 victory at UMC to snap seven-game skid

CROOKSTON, Minn. – University of Minnesota, Crookston made the mistake of fouling the No. 2 free throw shooting team in the nation 35 times Friday, as the Bemidji State University men’s basketball team made a program and conference record 40 free throws and snapped a seven-game losing streak with an 85-78 victory at Lysaker Gymnasium in a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game.

The Beavers shot 49 free throws in the game, making 81.6 percent of them, proving their national ranking. Sophomore Lance Rongstad (G, Eleva, Wis.) made almost half of BSU’s shots from the charity stripe, going 18-for-20 (90%), making good on his No. 16 national ranking in the category. The 18 made free throws established a BSU school record, while his 20 attempts tied the program's highwater mark. He led the way in points, scoring 22 points and adding seven rebounds.

“Tonight was one of the first nights in three or four games we weren’t pressing, weren’t trying to make things happen,” said head coach Matt Bowen. “We controlled the game though offensive movement, which allowed us to get to the line a lot more. It was a game I thought we dictated the pace.”

Both teams came out and struggled to find a rhythmon offense and that led to a knotted 16-16 contest with 9:38 remaining in the half. The Beavers then found a stride and rattled off a 7-0 run to take a 23-16 lead with just under eight showing on the game clock.

UMC responded with a 10-4 run of its own and the score read 27-26 BSU with just under five left in the half. The teams then traded buckets until a 4-0 Beaver run gave the road team a five point lead at 35-30 with two minutes left.

The Beavers didn’t back down for the last two minutes and increased the lead to six at 39-32, getting nine points from Rongstad and seven from freshman forward Zach Noreen (Avon, Minn.) who had just eight career points entering the contest.

BSU was 12-for-15 (80%) from the line in the half. UMC outshot the Beavers 54.5 percent to 46.2 percent, but BSU outrebounded the Golden Eagles 20-7, bringing down 10 offensive rebounds and creating 10 second chance points.

The Beavers started the second half aggressive on both ends of the floor and owned their first double-digit lead of the game at 45-34 four minutes into the second frame. Nine fouls were called on UMC before five minutes elapsed in the half, handing BSU six points as it was 6-for-6 from the charity stripe during that time.

BSU pushed the lead to 15 at 51-36 six minutes into the half, but UMC ran seven quick points off and cut the deficit to eight at 51-43, forcing a timeout by BSU with just over 12:30 showing on the clock. Beaver freshman Jake Schalow (G, Kaukauna, Wis.) responded out of the break with a dagger 3-pointer. After two UMC free throws the ball found Schalow’s hands again and he hit from beyond the arc, making the score 57-45.

Two Rongstad free throws with 9:28 left in regulation put the BSU lead back to 14 at 65-51 and the lead remained in double-digits until two Golden Eagle free throws made it 75-66 BSU with 3:31 showing on the clock.

The Golden Eagles kept coming and a fast break bucket made it a seven point game at 76-69 with 2:49 left in the second half. Pressure defense forced a poor shot by BSU and a foul on the rebound put UMC back to the line. Two good shots from the line made it 76-71, but on the inbounds pass Rongstad was fouled and he converted on his 14th freebie of the night, but missed the second. Fortunately, senior Patrick Cassidy (F, St. Paul, Minn.) was there and brought down BSU’s 12th offensive rebound of the game.

Cassidy handed the ball back to UMC with an offensive foul, his fifth. The Golden Eagles got inside, but missed the shot and sophomore Mason Walters (F, Milton, Wis.) came down with the board. Rongstad was eventually fouled and he made both his shots from the line to stretch the lead to a three possession game. The teams traded points, but the lead would be enough and the Beavers hung on for the victory.

For the first time this season the Beavers won a game where they were outshot as UMC posted 50 percent from the field to BSU’s 45.5 percent. In all eight victories this season the Beavers have outrebounded their opponent, this time the margin was 14 (37-23), with 13 of them boards coming on the offensive end.

Junior James Ellisor (F, Glendale, Ariz.) scored 15 points and added a team-high eight rebounds. Junior Bryce Tesdahl (G, Crosby, Minn.) finished with 12 points and zero assists for the first time this season. Schalow finished with 11 points, tying a season-high and three 3-pointers made was a season-best. Noreen surpassed his total season points with nine in the game, recording season-highs in almost all offensive categories, while playing 23 minutes.

The Beavers now travel to Minnesota State University Moorhead for an 8 p.m. tilt tomorrow.