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Cassidy's clutch free throws lead Beavers to victory

BSU's Noah Shepherd drives to the baseline during the first half of Tuesday's game against Wisconsin-Stout. BSU Photo Services

Pat Cassidy had been in this situation before. At least that's what he told himself.

With 08.8 seconds to play Tuesday the Bemidji State men's basketball team and Stout were knotted at 87-87 in BSU's home opener. Cassidy found a small opening in the lane and Bryce Tesdahl zipped a rocket pass to his teammate.

While Cassidy was taking the shot he was mugged by the Stout defense and the senior was awarded two free throws.

With the game on the line Cassidy stepped to the charity stripe.

"I told myself that I've been here a million times and I've made this shot a million times. And I told myself that I was going to knock these free throws down," Cassidy said.

Cassidy did exactly as he envisioned as both free throws found their mark and the Beavers were on top 89-87. Now it was time for the defense to make a stop.

Utilizing a press the BSU defenders pestered Stout's offense to the point where the Blue Devils never off a shot. When the buzzer finally went off, the Beavers had the 89-87 win and finally they could breathe a sigh of relief.

'I don't know if that was a fun game to play. Maybe stressful would be a better word," Cassidy said.

His coach agreed.

"That was an exhausting game," BSU coach Matt Bowen said. "We were in control for a good portion of the game but we couldn't put it away. Stout probably deserved to win it. They had us on the ropes but we were resilient and I'm proud of the kids."

Both teams landed solid punches in the opening half and at intermission the Beavers owned a 44-42 advantage. BSU had an opportunity to put the game on ice at the start of the second session when they expanded their lead to 55-44 with an 11-2 run.

Stout, however, returned the favor and used a 17-5 spurt to regain the lead at 61-60.

From that point the lead changed hands eight times, the final exchange courtesy of an 8-0 Beaver run to end the game.

Tesdahl began the rally with a 3-pointer with 1:52 to play which brought Bemidji State within 87-84. After Stout (2-1) missed a shot Cassidy drained another trey to tie the game with 1:01 to play.

When the Blue Devils were off target on a 3-pointer with 36 seconds remaining, the stage was set for Cassidy's free throws.

"In the end a team doesn't get any style points, it's either a win or a loss," Bowen said. "The last two years we lost our home openers to Jamestown on last-second baskets. Tonight it was nice to be on the other end."

Cassidy paced BSU's offense with 18 points while James Ellisor, Noah Sheperd and Jake Lindstrom each contributed 13. Tesdahl had 11 and also dished seven assists.

The Beavers return to action Monday when they visit Jamestown.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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