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Bemidji State men's basketball: Defense keys win over Viterbo in tournament title game

La CROSSE, Wis. -- The Bemidji State men's basketball team captured the Viterbo Tournament title Saturday with a 69-44 win over Viterbo University in the championship game.

The Beavers shot 60 percent in the game and BSU sophomore guard Bryce Tesdahl was named the tournament's most valuable player. BSU senior guard Seth Haake was named to the all-tournament team.

Bemidji State defeated College of the Ozarks Friday night to reach the title game and the Beavers are now 2-0 to start the season. It is the best coach in Matt Bowen's four years as head coach at Bemidji State and the team's best start since 2003-04.

"We had solid team defense," Bowen said. "Our defense kept us in the game for three halves this weekend until our offense let loose in the final half. What we see so far this year that is different from last is that our defense is enabling us to stay in games until our offense starts hitting shots."

Haake led Bemidji State in the victory and was the only BSU player in double-figures scoring.

He finished with a team-high 15 points, eight rebounds and two steals. His eight rebounds tied a career high.

Behind him, the Beavers scored with a near complete team effort.

Tesdhal and guard Jake Lindstrom each had eight points.

Tesdahl had eight assists and did not commit a turnover.

Patrick Cassidy and Tyler Wruck had seven points. Jimmy Johnson and Brady Fairbanks each had six points.

Lance Rongstad and Sergej Baskow each had four points. David Berthene had two points.

All 14 of Bemidji State's players that dressed played at least four minutes in the game and contributed with points or rebounds.

Bemidji State returns to BSU Gymnasium Tuesday night for the home opener against Jamestown College. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.

It is one of only three games before the new year. The game will be a rematch of last season's BSU home opener in which the Jimmies stole the game from BSU with a game-winning shot as time expired.

Bemidji State won the rematch a month later in Jamestown 61-50.

BSU shot just 32 percent from the floor and 22 percent from the 3-point line in the first half against Viterbo, but only trailed 24-23 at halftime.

The Beavers got it done on both ends of the floor in the second half, winning the second frame by outscoring Viterbo 46-20.

BSU shot 60 percent from the field, 46.2 percent from 3-point range and went a perfect 4-4 from the line in the second half Saturday night. The Beavers held Viterbo to a dismal 28.6 percent shooting from the floor and just 12.5 percent from beyond the arc.

A 3-pointer from Haake 51 seconds in to the second half gave BSU a two point lead and the Beavers never looked back.

BSU held V-Hawks scoreless in the second half until the 16:19 mark. Three consecutive points by Tesdahl after the VU bucket gave the Beavers a 10 point lead and then it was of to the races. BSU had an 18-point lead at the 10 minute mark and then a 25-point lead with five minutes left.

Bemidji State's bench outscored Viterbo 27-6.