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Bemidji State men's basketball: Beavers frustrated in loss to Northern State

Bemidji State's Jake Lindstrom drives to the basket during the second half of Saturday's game at?BSU Gymnasium. Pioneer Photo/Eric Stromgren

In control for most of the game, the Bemidji State men's basketball team watched another lead slowly melt away in Saturday's 84-82 loss to Northern State at BSU Gymnasium.

It is becoming part of a frustrating routine for the Beavers and with the season-long losing streak now at six games, senior captain Pat Cassidy directed the blame of another wasted opportunity onto himself.

"That's how the story of this year has been - we are beating ourselves," he said. "I'm a senior so it has to be on me. We played good for about 35 minutes. We were up 10 in the first half and in the second half and we just plummeted."

The Beavers had four of five starters in double figures scoring Saturday. Lance Rongstad led the way with 22 points, James Ellisor had 14, Bryce Tesdahl 13 and Pat Cassidy 11.

The Wolves also had four of five starters in double figures led by forward Collin Pryor's 19 points.

The Beavers fell to 7-12 on the season (4-11 NSIC) while the Wolves, winners of three of their last four games, improved to 9-10 overall (5-10 NSIC).

BSU remains home next weekend and hosts Minnesota-Duluth Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.

"Monday we have to get back to practice and not worry about the past or what's coming two weeks from now," Cassidy said. "We need to worry about what's coming up this week. I wish I could say we've learned from this game but this has been the story of the last six games. We have to get out at practice and start pushing each other more."

Bemidji State won the previous meeting against Northern State earlier this season 92-86 by overcoming a five-point deficit at halftime and scoring 64 points in the second half.

The Wolves were the team that rallied in Saturday night's physical game and overcame a 41-36 deficit at halftime.

The Beavers were in control early and held a 34-22 lead with 6:03 left in the first half. BSU's shooting then went cold and the Beavers only points the rest of the first half came on free throws.

BSU's largest lead in the second half was 56-48 and it came with 12:23 left in the game.

The Wolves slowly chipped away and took at 63-62 lead with 7:34 remaining.

Northern State never led by more than six points the rest of the way and Bemidji State never regained the lead.

"No disrespect to Northern State, but we're beating ourselves and making too many silly mistakes at the wrong times - we missed four easy layups in the second half," Bemidji State head coach Matt Bowen said.

The game went down to the wire in the final minute when Rongstad's layup with 35 seconds left cut Northern's lead to 79-76.

BSU had a chance to tie the game after Pryor threw a pass out of bounds from half court, but Mason Walters' 3-point attempt on the following possession from the top of the arc bounced off the front of the rim.

Northern State closed out the final 17 seconds when David Lane made five of his six attempted free throws.

It secured the winning margin despite Rongstad hitting a pair of 3-point shots with nine seconds remaining and two seconds remaining.

The Beavers seemed to just run out of time. After Lane missed his final free throw with less than a second remaining, Tesdhal's full-court shot hit the backboard to the left of the rim.

"There were a lot of timeouts and I'm pretty happy that we made shots after those timeouts," Bowen said. "It gave us a chance to have an opportunity to win the game. We were up 10 points though so it never should have come to that."

Bemidji State outshot Northern State from the field 54 percent to 39 percent and outscored the Wolves in the paint 38-20. The Wolves overcame those statistics on the offensive glass by outscoring the Beavers 16-6 on second-chance points.

The Wolves scored two more points off turnovers and made one more 3-point shot than the Beavers.

"There's such a fine line for us," Bowen said. "One thing we've done is made this program competitive. The next step is winning and that's a huge hurdle we've failed to cross. That hurdle is not as much physical as it is mental."

"Fans out there are probably watching us and wondering if we even practice. You wouldn't believe that we are practicing as much as we are. It's incredibly frustrating for our staff and our kids. We have got to put a stop to this someday."