Beavers close 2010-11 at Upper Iowa and Winona State
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Beavers close 2010-11 at Upper Iowa and Winona State
This Week: The Bemidji State University men’s basketball team closes the book on the 2010-11 season at Upper Iowa University (8 p.m.) and Winona State University (7 p.m.) Feb. 25-26 for a pair of Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference games.

Live stats at UIU:
Live stats at WSU:
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About Bemidji State: The Beavers own a 9-15 overall and 6-14 NSIC record to sit 13th in the conference standings. The Beavers are coming off a 1-1 weekend that ended the home schedule for BSU, defeating Southwest Minnesota State University 84-66 before falling to then-No. 14 Minnesota State University, Mankato 77-73. BSU used a season-high 14 3-pointers and a fast start to down the Mustangs. The Beavers hadn’t surpassed 10 3-pointers in a game all season and had just two their previous game. The loss to MSU was another heartbreaker as BSU lost both games this season to the Mavericks by a total score of nine points and had been tied in the final minutes of regulation in both contests. The Beavers had multiple opportunities down the stretch to take a lead on the highly ranked Mavericks, but just couldn’t complete to upset. Junior James Ellisor averaged 22.5 points, seven rebounds, four assists and shot 58.6 percent from the field.

• With a 58.1 FG%, Ellisor leads the NSIC and is 32nd in the nation.
• Lone senior Patrick Cassidy will close his career at BSU this weekend.
• The Beavers are 1-7 in games decided by five points or less.
• BSU is No. 2 nationally (games thru Feb. 20) in free throw shooting, hitting at a 79.8 percent clip from the line. Sophomore Lance Rongstad is No. 11 nationally with a 90.0 percentage from the line.
• Junior Bryce Tesdahl leads the NSIC and is 9th in the nation in assists, dishing out 5.9 per game. He has four 10+ assist games this season.

About Upper Iowa:
The Peacocks are 8-16 overall and 7-13 in NSIC play to sit in a three-way tie for 10th in the league standings. UIU was on a four-game losing streak before defeating Winona State 80-64 in Fayette Feb. 12. Last weekend it went 1-1 at University of Minnesota, Crookston (W, 71-63) and Minnesota State University Moorhead (L, 87-76). Senior Matt Lesan leads the team in scoring at 13.8 points per game. The only other UIU player in double-figures in scoring is sophomore Tucker Wentzien with 12.0 points per game, he leads the team in rebounds with 6.3 per contest.    

Series History:
The Beavers and coach Bowen have had troubles with the Peacocks as of late, going 1-4 in the last four contests and trail the all-time series 4-5. Earlier this season UIU stole a 83-80 victory at the BSU Gymnasium. Last season in Fayette the Peacocks won 91-80 after the Beavers defeated then-No. 17 Winona State in overtime. BSU last defeated UIU at home Dec. 13, 2008 by the score of 75-70.      

About Winona State:
The Warriors are 16-8 overall and hold a 11-8 NSIC record that is good for fourth. WSU was slated to finish first in the NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Warriors are 1-3 in their last four games, the last being a 70-66 shocking loss at Minnesota, Crookston Feb. 19. WSU is second in league games in scoring with averaging 78.8 points per contest while allowing 73.8. The Warriors are led by junior Anthony Tucker’s 16.8 points per game. Sophomore Clayton Vette owns the team lead in rebounds with 6.4 per game, while adding 14.1 points per contest. WSU hosts Minnesota Duluth Friday before welcoming BSU.              

Series History: BSU is 68-81 all-time against the Warriors. The Beavers are 2-3 in the last five games against WSU, losing at the BSU Gymnasium earlier this season 71-62. BSU swept the season series last year, doing so for the first time since 2003-04. Last season, the Beavers won 88-87 in overtime in Winona, defeating the then-No. 17 Warriors in their own building for the first time since 2005-06.

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 was the most under Bowen. BSU won’t be able to surpass its wins total this season, but still has the opportunity to get to double-figures in wins in back-to-back seasons and get to eight conference victories to tie the Bowen-era record.

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 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in 32.0 minutes per game, while shooting 58.1 percent from the field. He scored 25 points in the opener, adding a team-high six rebounds.

Roaring 20’s: Ellisor has nine games scoring the 20’s, including a team season-high 28 point performance Feb. 5 versus Minnesota Duluth. Last season BSU had 15 games with an individual in the 20’s, led by Seth Haake’s eight. This season, five players have combined for 17 games with 20 points or more.

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 9th in the nation in assists (5.9 apg). He has four 10+ assist games this season and six in his career. His 142 assists this season sits tied for fourth 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.    364    Bryce Tesdahl    2008-SA

BSU’s Top Season Assists
#    Assists    Player    Season    Avg.

1.    167    James Roberson    2003-04    5.6
2.    145    Royce Bryan    2001-02    5.1
3.    142    Tyrone Terrill    1975-76    5.9
    142    Bryce Tesdahl    2010-11    5.8
4.    137    Bryce Tesdahl    2009-10    5.1

Thanks for the Charity: The Beavers are the No. 2 team in the Division II nation in free throw percentage (as of the Feb. 20 NCAA Statistics Summary), shooting 79.8 percent from the charity stripe. Sophomore Lance Rongstad’s 90.0 percent guides the team and is 11th in the nation.  
Thanks for the Charity x40: The Beavers made 40 of its 49 attempts from the free throw line in a 85-78 victory at Minnesota, Crookston Feb. 11 to establish a program and NSIC record for free throws made in a game. BSU surpassed the previous record of 39 set by Southwest Minnesota State in 1971 and tied by Northern State earlier this season against Bemidji State. Rongstad made 18-of-20 to break the program record for free throws made and tie the free throws attempted mark.

Battle for the Boards: In all nine of BSU’s wins this season it has outrebounded its opponent and owns a 9-4 record when doing so. But one category the Beavers have struggled in this season is the offensive glass. BSU is getting outrebounded 253-214 in offensive rebounds, resulting in a difference of 264-243 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 1-7 in games decided by five points or less, pushing them to the 13th spot in the league standings.