January 21, 20121st2ndFinal
Southwest Minnesota253156
Bemidji State254570
Stats at a GlanceSMSUBSUMBB
FG Percentage.382 (21-55) .531 (26-49)
3P FG Percentage.143 (2-14) .278 (5-18)
FT Percentage.667 (12-18) .684 (13-19)
Offensive Rebounds910
Defensive Rebounds1629
Total Rebounds2539
Bench Points219
PointsSussenguth - 18
Ellisor - 26
ReboundsSmith - 7
Rongstad - 7
AssistsBirch - 2
Tesdahl - 10
StealsBarnes - 3
Walters - 2
BlocksEllisor - 1
Berthene - 1
Rongstad - 1
Beavers use strong second half to tame Mustangs 70-56
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Beavers use strong second half to tame Mustangs 70-56

BEMIDJI, Minn. - With the score tied 25-25 at the half, the Bemidji State University men’s basketball team outscored Southwest Minnesota State University 45-31 in the second half of a 70-56 victory Saturday at the BSU Gymnasium. Senior James Ellisor (F, Glendale, Ariz.) again proved his dominance in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference with 26 points on 11-for-12 (91.7%) shooting from the field.

Ellisor finished the weekend averaging 30 points per game and shooting 24-for-29 (82.8%) from the field, 1-for-1 from beyond the arc and 11-for-12 (91.7%) from the charity stripe. Meanwhile the Beavers have now won three straight games and are 14-5 overall and 9-4 in the NSIC to sit in a tie for third place in the conference standings with Minnesota State University Moorhead. The win also moved the Beavers to 9-1 at the BSU Gymnasium this season, 7-1 on Saturday’s and its the fastest to 14 wins since the 1972-73 team posted a matching 14-5 record through 19 games. 

BSU shot above 60 percent in the second half for the second consecutive game and finished with a 53.1 percentage from the field, while holding SMSU - a team that was leading the league in NSIC games with 48.1 percent shooting entering the weekend - to a dismal 38.2 percent.

Junior Lance Rongstad (G/F, Eleva, Wis.) was the only other Beaver in double-figures with 12 points, while he added seven rebounds and went 7-for-9 (77.8%) from the line. The league’s assists leader, senior guard Bryce Tesdahl (Crosby, Minn.), finished with 10 helpers, his second double-digit assists mark of the season and the eighth of his career.

BSU shot its third lowest percentage from 3-point land in 2011-12 at 27.8 percent, but hit on 4-of-9 (44.4%) in the second half to create some early separation from the Mustangs. The Beavers tied a season-high 18 turnovers - ties first game of the season at then-No. 10 Metro State - as they struggled with SMSU’s full court pressure defense in the first half, coughing up 12 in the first 20 minutes. BSU entered the weekend No. 2 in the nation in turnovers per game, averaging 10.4 per contest.

Six times the game was tied in the first half, with two lead changes as the Beavers and Mustangs duked it out in the first half riddled with missed shots and turnovers by both teams. BSU had its largest lead reach six at 18-12 with 8:18 remaining, but SMSU went on a 6-0 run to tie the game at 18-18 with 5:30 to play and the teams traded buckets to the halftime buzzer to sit tied 25-25. Ellisor was the game’s points leader at the break with nine.

The Beavers came out of the locker room determined and a dunk by Ellisor 1:14 into the half sparked an 8-1 run that gave BSU a 35-38 lead with 2:49 gone from second. The lead stayed in single digits until Tesdahl dished sophomore Zach Noreen (F, Avon, Minn.) the ball underneath for an easy lay-up that gave the home team a 46-35 advantage with 13:48 to play in regulation.

From there the lead never dipped below six and got as high as 12 at 57-45 with 6:06 showing on the clock. From that point the Mustangs found a spirt where they cut the deficit to five at 59-54 with 3:04 left. Ellisor moved the lead to seven at 61-54, but SMSU responded on the next possession to get it back to five at 61-56 with 1:48 showing on the clock. Ellisor again came up big and knocked down a jumper from junior forward Mason Walters (Milton, Wis.). Ellisor then returned the favor when he guided Walters to the basket for a fast break dunk that opened a nine point lead with 1:01 left.

After a failed 3-point attempt by SMSU, Tesdahl pushed the ball to Ellisor and he put the final nail in the coffin with a powerful dunk, while getting fouled in the process. His free throw and two more from Rongstad handed the Beavers the 14 point win in front of a supportive home crowd.

Bemidji State now goes on the road for three, starting Jan. 27-28 at University of Mary and Northern State University.  

Bemidji State University, located in Bemidji, Minn., is an NCAA Division II institution and a member of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).