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Bemidji State men's basketball team wins season opener

LA CROSSE, Wis. -- The Bemidji State University men's basketball team didn't play exactly how they wanted in the opening game of the 2009-10 season, but battled on the defensive end to earn a 60-54 victory against College of the Ozarks at the Viterbo University Pepsi Tournament.

BSU held CO to 36.7 percent shooting in the game, while forcing 28 turnovers and recording nine steals and four blocks to the Bobcats' four and one respectively.

"It was an ugly game on both sides, but I'm proud of our team for not giving-up and earning the win," BSU head coach Matt Bowen said. "I thought our defense was very good in a game where neither team found a rhythm. We were in the right places and were very active. It was our first real game of the season, so it takes some time to get the kinks out."

The Bobcats held the lead through most of the first half, but BSU used an 8-3 run in the frame's final 4:21 to take a 26-22 lead into the locker room. BSU never relinquished the lead in the second half, storming out of the gates in the first five minutes and earning its largest lead of the game at 34-26 with 15:32 remaining. The lead never dipped below three and solid free throw shooting down the stretch iced the win for the Beavers. Sophomore guard Bryce Teshdal was a perfect 10-10 from the line in the game, including six in the final 4:08.

Three BSU players reached double-figures in the game, led by junior Brady Fairbanks who had 14 points on 5-8 shooting. Patrick Cassidy and Tesdahl each had 12 points. BSU shot 43.2 percent from the floor, having an off-night from beyond that arc at 3-15 (20 percent).

The Beavers will play Viterbo Saturday at 4 p.m. in the championship game.