The Bemidji State men's basketball team was outmatched in Wednesday night's exhibition against the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison.
Wisconsin defeated Bemidji State 90-54 before 17,230 fans in a game the Badgers controlled from wire to wire.
"We were outmatched, but I expected us to play better than what we did tonight," Bemidji State head coach Matt Bowen said. "I know the reasons we lost and it's not overly surprising when you look at Bo Ryan's teams: he's always got well-coached teams that rank high in defensive field goal percentage, rebounding and getting to the free throw line. That's what they did to us tonight."
There was only one tie score, 2-2, and that was just 90 seconds into the game. Wisconsin went on a 16-6 run and never trailed by fewer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Wisconsin led 46-22 at halftime.
The Badgers owned the inside game on both ends of the court and the Beavers were unable to find a rhythm throughout the game.
"They did three things that really hurt us," Bowen said. "They penetrated and that forced us to foul ... they were extremely patient which forced us to foul because they would go inside and outside over and over again ... and they had outstanding position at their help positions all the time."
Bemidji State had 19 turnovers and committed 29 fouls in the game. Wisconsin also outrebounded the Beavers 44-24.
Every player on the Bemidji State roster saw playing time in the loss.
Former Cass Lake-Bena standout Brady Fairbanks was Bemidji State's top performer with 14 points. The junior forward scored nine of those points in the second half.
BSU starting senior guard Seth Haake had nine points and freshman David Berthene came off the bench to score eight points in the final minutes of the second half.
Wisconsin had four players in double-figures scoring, led by forward Jon Leuer's 15 points. He missed only one shot on the night. Jason Bohannon had 14 points.
The other telling stat in the game was shooting percentage: Bemidji State shot 30 percent in the first half and 40 percent in the game.
Wisconsin shot 52 percent.
"The thing we like to do is penetrate to the lane, work the post and that was just not available tonight. It just wasn't there," Bowen said. "This early in the season, that made us extremely uncomfortable and it a type of situation we really have not worked on in practice."
The Beavers also had trouble dealing with Wisconsin's Ryan Evans off the bench. He finished with 12 points, five blocks and two steals.
While the Beavers were hoping for a better showing, the odds were stacked against them from the start. Wisconsin has not lost an exhibition game since 1992, a streak now up to 32 games.
Fairbanks started slow, but showed poise in the second half.
Haake and Bryce Tesdahl, quick guards in the Northern Sun Conference, were unable to match the speed of Wisconsin's guards but came away making a few nice baskets and passes on double teams.
"In the second half we were able to regroup and play a little bit better," Bowen said. "But I'm just disappointed with our execution and I thought we would handle the adversity a little bit better. We got impatient and took shots that had less of a chance going in. They forced us out of our comfort level, but that's why I schedule games like these. We play these games to expose our weaknesses at a great level."
Up next for Bemidji State is another road exhibition game against the University of North Dakota on Sunday at 3 p.m.
"We'll need to shore some things up so we can have a better showing on Sunday," Bowen said. "What I liked in this game is that we had glimpses of the ability to run our offense and get the shots that we needed ... but there was just not the consistency we needed there."
The Beavers then go to the Viterbo Tournament in LaCrosse, Wis. on Nov. 20-21 before the Nov. 24 home opener against Jamestown College.