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Bemidji State men's basketball: Beavers fall to Minn.-Duluth in 4OT; longest game in BSU's 86-year history

Bemidji State's Patrick Cassidy (center) dives for a rebound during the second half of Wednesday night's game against Minnesota-Duluth at BSU Gymnasium. At left is Bemidji State's Jimmy Johnson. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

Pride is one of the few driving forces behind the Bemidji State men's basketball team in the final week of the season.

That motivation turned Wednesday night's spirited game against Minnesota-Duluth at BSU Gymnasium into the longest game in Bemidji State men's basketball history.

The Beavers were on the wrong end of the scoreboard when the thriller ended, losing 126-124 to the Bulldogs in the fourth overtime.

"It was a well played basketball game-unfortunately we just came up one possession short," Bemidji State head coach Matt Bowen said. "The guys were trying tonight, they were scrappy and they battled, we just came up one possession short."

John Vaudreuil hit the game-winning shot for the Bulldogs, elevating for a contested jumper in the paint with four seconds left in the fourth overtime.

It capped off a monster night for the Bulldogs forward, who was one foul from fouling out of the game. He finished with 33 points and 14 rebounds.

Bemidji State had a chance to make the final shot, but had to go the length of the court with four seconds remaining and no timeouts left.

Patrick Cassidy had trouble handling the second pass up the court and was unable to get the shot off just outside of 3-point range.

It was a tough break for Cassidy, who had the hot hand for the Beavers all night and scored a team-high 26 points off the bench.

Brady Fairbanks finished with 25 points and Taylor Hall had 21 points for Bemidji State. Seth Haake had 12 points and Jake Lindstrom chipped in 11 for the Beavers.

Leading Minnesota-Duluth was Vaudreuil and Brian Sykora, who were forces inside for the Bulldogs. Sykora finished with 37 points and 20 rebounds.

Former Cass Lake-Bena standout Byron Ninham scored two points off the bench and played nine minutes in the game for the Bulldogs.

The game came down to rebounding and fouls.

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 57-43.

Each team was called for 27 fouls in the game, but the Bulldogs were able to spread the fouls out better, losing only Ron White and Ryan Rasmussen in the game.

Haake, Fairbanks, Hall and Jimmy Johnson all fouled out for the Beavers.

"We've really come a long way to be competitive in this league, we just have no wins to show for it. We just played a legit top-end NSIC team and took them to four overtimes," Bowen said. "In the end, I'm really proud of how hard the kids worked tonight- we'll come out here on Saturday and look to end the season on a positive note."

Bemidji State (8-18 overall, 6-13 NSIC) ends the regular season Saturday against Wayne State at BSU Gymnasium. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m.

Minnesota-Duluth improved its record to 19-10 overall and 13-6 in the NSIC.

The game had energy from the start, with Bemidji State opening the game on a 10-2 run.

The Beavers held onto that lead the entire first half and entered the break with a 39-37 lead.

Bemidji State continued to control into the second half, although the Bulldogs did not allow the Beavers to run away with the game.

Bemidji State never led by more than nine points in the second half.

The game got interesting in the final five minutes as the Beavers lead evaporated when Sykora hit a jumper to give the Bulldogs a 74-73 lead with 2:10 remaining.

With the game later tied, Brady Fairbanks drained desperation fade-away 3-pointer from nearly half court with eight seconds remaining to give the Beavers an 81-78 lead.

But Minnesota-Duluth forced the first overtime when Steve Klass answered with a 3-pointer from the wing with one second left to make it 81-81.

The Beavers owned the first overtime early, with Cassidy hitting two jumpers to put the Beavers up 85-81.

The first overtime went down to the wire with Bemidji State's Bryce Tesdahl drawing a foul then hitting one of his two free throws to give Bemidji State a 94-93 lead with four seconds remaining.

Once again, the Bulldogs found a way to stay alive.

After the inbounds and a half-court pass under the basket, Bemidji State's James Gibson fouled Rasmussen with two seconds left.

He couldn't seal the game for Minnesota-Duluth and hit only one of his two free throws.

The first overtime ended tied at 94-94.

The second overtime belonged mostly to Minnesota-Duluth who led for the first four minutes before Fairbanks hit another big 3-pointer to tie the game at 101-101 with 1:28 to play.

Haake hit the last basket of the second overtime, making a layup with 23 seconds left to tie the game at 105-105.

Rasmussen had a chance again to end it for the Bulldogs, but missed his jumper.

Neither team led by more than three in the third overtime.

"We were in a triple overtime game against Dickinson State earlier this year," Cassidy said, referencing the 99-97 Beavers win on Jan. 6. "We knew what to expect when the game gets like this and we just hoped to keep toughing it out and hope that a shot falls for us."

Sykora's layup gave Duluth a 115-113 lead with 21 seconds left. On a do-or-die possession, Tesdahl drew a foul on Klass and hit both of his free throws to tie the game and force the fourth overtime.

Bemidji State last held the lead with 48 seconds left in the fourth overtime, a 124-120 advantage.

The Bulldogs tied the game when Klass hit a jumper and Sykora hit two free throws after he was fouled by Lindstrom.

Sykora stole the ball from Tyler Wruck on the next Beaver possession, which set up Vaudreuil's game-winning jumper.

It ended the longest game in the 86-year history of the Bemidji State men's basketball program.

The previous longest game was a 103-100 triple overtime loss to Pittsburg State on Nov. 23, 2003.