“It was a frustrating game because we played well enough to win,” said head coach Matt Bowen. “But you have to credit Winona State. They just never let us get over the hump, we had several opportunities to take the game over in the second half but we came up empty and in the end they made a play to stretch the lead and take the air out the game.”
The Beavers (4-3, 1-2 NSIC) started the game with high energy and intensity, something Bowen has been preaching BSU has needed all season long. The home team, behind a strong home crowd, jumped out to a 10-3 lead forcing the Warriors (6-0, 2-0 NSIC) to take an early timeout. The Beavers got all their buckets in the paint to start the game, penetrating the WSU defense.
The Warriors came out of the timeout with a hot hand behind the 3-point line and turned the deficit into an advantage with a 11-3 run to make the score 14-13. BSU’s Mason Walters (So., F, Milton, Wis.) responded, scoring seven unanswered points, two on lay-ups and clutch 3-pointer, to hand the home team a 20-14 lead with eight minutes gone in the half.
The game continued its back-and-forth pace as Winona State rallied to take a 24-22 lead with 7:56 left on the clock. Two free throws from junior Jake Lindstrom (G, Cottage Grove, Minn.) knotted the game 24-24, but after that it was all WSU. BSU looked lost on offense and allowed easy buckets on defense, allowing the third best team in the nation to go on a 14-5 run to end the first half and jog into the locker room with a 38-29 lead.
The Beavers again started the half determined to upset the Warriors, going on a 14-8 run during the first five minutes to cut the deficit to three at 46-43. After a WSU bucket, BSU scored four quick points on Ellisor lay-ups to inch within one at 48-47.
The game’s momentum quickly turned back to the WSU side as Jon Walburg knocked down a 3-pointer while being fouled by sophomore forward Lance Rongstad (Eleva, Wis.). Converting on the four-point play, the Warriors continued to roll and owned a 59-49 lead at the media timeout with 9:32 showing on the clock.
WSU maintained a double-digit lead for the next five minutes, but a 5-0 run by the Beavers put the score at 61-56. Again, the door was open for the Beavers to walk through, but again the Warriors slammed it shut and scored on a lay-up while getting fouled with 4:02 left in regulation to go up seven. An offensive rebound off the missed free throw was converted into a lay-up that put WSU up nine, forcing a BSU timeout. After the timeout the Beavers had a couple offensive possessions to cut the WSU lead, but they simply ran out of time to make a comeback and fell by the nine points.
BSU held the league’s No. 1 scoring offense to 71 points, 42.2 percent shooting from the field and 37.9 percent from downtown. The Warriors averaged 88.6 points, 52.6 percent shooting from the field and 49.1 percent from 3-point land through their first five games. Offensive rebounding again crippled the Beavers, this time allowing WSU to grab 17 offensive boards and turn them into 22 second chance points. BSU had just six offensive rebounds and scored two second chance points. This season the Beavers are being outrebounded on the offensive glass 101-50 and outscored in second chance points 84-56. The Beavers again shot the ball well from the line, going 9-for-10, but the 10 attempts was below their season average of 23.8.
Junior James Ellisor (F, Glendale, Ariz.) led the team in scoring, pouring in 16 points in the second half and 22 in the game, shooting 11-of-18 (61.1%) from the field. He also added a career-high two blocks. Walters continued his consistent play scoring 16 points, getting nine from beyond the arc. He also added five rebounds and two blocks in 26 minutes. In his last three games, Walters is averaging 15.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest. Rongstad scored in double-figures for the first time this season, adding 10 points with five rebounds. Junior guard Bryce Tesdahl (Crosby, Minn.) didn’t score for the just the third time in his career and the first time since the sixth game of his career. He still distributed the ball for eight assists, but didn’t get to the free throw line in the game after averaging six attempts per game entering Friday’s contest
The Beavers host Upper Iowa University at the BSU Gymnasium tomorrow at 6 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).