The arc of Martin Brothers' season has gone something like this: He was a bystander in November, a new cog at Christmastime and an increasingly important figure throughout January.
And on the last day of the month, he seemed to arrive at hero status.
The 6-foot-8 junior forward erupted for 30 points -- including eight in overtime -- as the Lewis-Clark State men sweated out a 95-92 triumph over Montana State-Northern on Saturday night. The Warriors were down by as much as 14 in the second half, but squeezed out a win that moved them to 21-4 overall and 5-2 in the Frontier Conference.
LCSC also improved to 13-0 at Warrior Gym this season. The exuberant, overflow crowd witnessed L-C's first home game with any detectable amount of drama.
"That's an exciting game; I like games like that," said Brothers, a transfer from Indianapolis who only became eligible after the fall semester. "It's fun to get blowouts, but sometimes you need something like this to really test your team's character and your heart. And I feel like we've got a lot of heart and a lot of character."
On one trip down the floor, Brothers tossed in a leaning bank shot when the Warriors isolated him on the left wing. But most of his OT offense came via garbage work. He was fouled on a putback of an Adam Trombley miss, and his three-point play put L-C up two with 2:44 left.
At the one-minute mark, Brothers cashed in another offensive board to make it a five-point game. He nearly fumbled away the ball as he was gathering himself.
"I lost it -- I lost it going up," he said. "I was looking to actually pass it to Trombley, but once I jumped up in the air, I had already committed myself to shooting the ball. So I just kind of switched it up."
The Skylights' Lamar Morinia answered with a driving bucket -- making it a three-point margin -- and the Warriors spilled away the possession with the shot clock winding down. Off the turnover, MSUN's Larry Morinia got an open look at a 3-pointer with three seconds left, but it pinged off.
"They had a nice naked look for 3," LCSC coach George Pfeifer said. "... In that situation, it's better to be lucky than good."
To get to overtime, the Warriors had to expend all the oomph they could muster. The Morinia brothers -- a pair of sharp-shooting guards from New Mexico -- did their best to foil L-C, collaborating for 39 points during the second half. (Lamar finished with 30; Larry had 29.)
Warrior guard Joey Ray greased the wheels of the rally with a four-point play with 8:47 remaining, cutting the Lights' lead to 72-66. Danny Allen later canned a 3, then popped a baseline jumper to forge a 76-all tie.
L-C went up three on Brothers' post-up bucket with 53 second left. But after Larry Morinia misfired on a 3, his brother dead-eyed a triple to tie the game.
Here's a sign of Brothers' current prominence: The Warriors looked to him for the final shot of regulation. His leaning one-hander from inside the foul line clanged off at the buzzer. "I like our opportunity there," Pfeifer said.
Ray, who carried L-C during the first half, finished with 25 points. Allen added 14 points while Dustin Endsley contributed eight points, eight rebounds, four assists -- and planted two fading overtime jumpers.
It was a two-point game at halftime, but the Lights raced ahead 63-49 six minutes into the second half. Pfeifer said that his team wasn't paying attention to the scouting report on MSUN.
"We were guarding strangers. We were constantly acting like we didn't even know who this guy was. It was like the first game of the year and we didn't even have a scouting report."
But the Warriors did rally -- which is something they didn't do in a road loss to Westminster the previous Saturday.
"I guess the best thing about this is we got our backs to the wall," Pfeifer said. "And a week ago, we got our backs in the same situation, and we ... went away. Tonight, we didn't do that."
NOTES -- Backup point guard Ricky Frazier didn't play for the second straight game -- a suspension that Pfeifer has termed a "basketball decision." The coach said Frazier will return to active duty Monday.
MONTANA STATE-NORTHERN (15-10, 3-4)
Lar. Morinia 9-19 8-8 29, Stovall 4-7 0-0 9, Lam. Morinia 12-20 2-5 30, Grant 0-0 0-0 0, Harbaugh 0-5 0-4 0, McLean 1-2 0-0 2, Runsabove 1-2 0-0 2, Moran 1-2 2-3 4, Ahrens 0-1 0-0 0 Sawejka 8-19 0-1 16. Totals 36-77 12-21 92.
LEWIS-CLARK STATE (21-4, 5-2)
Idoko 2-3 1-4 5, Endsley 3-6 2-2 8, Tikker 1-2 0-0 2, Allen 6-17 0-1 14, Ray 9-15 1-1 25, Ball 1-2 0-0 3, Pecht 0-1 0-0 0, Hansen 0-0 0-0 0, Brothers 10-15 10-14 30, Pitts 1-2 0-0 2, Trombley 1-6 4-4 6. Totals 34-69 18-26 95.
Halftime score -- MSUN 42, LCSC 40. Three-point goals -- MSUN 8-16 (Lar. Morinia 3-7, Stovall 1-1, Lam. Morinia 4-6, McLean 0-1, Sawejka 0-1); LCSC 9-20 (Endsley 0-2, Allen 2-6, Ray 6-11, Ball 1-1). Rebounds -- MSUN 35 (Harbaugh 9); LCSC 44 (Brothers 10). Assists -- MSUN 16 (Stovall, Lam. Morinia 4); LCSC 13 (Endsley 4). Total fouls -- MSUN 25, LCSC 19. Fouled out -- Harbaugh, Idoko, Allen. Technical fouls -- none.