When Joey Ray rainbowed in a fading, falling 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer, it seemed to affirm his status as a magnificent marksman.
And when Ray potted a wide-open 3 in the first minute of the second half, it seemed to show that Lewis-Clark State's offense is still an amazing machine.
Blowing away the gathering cloud of a two-game losing streak, the 16th-ranked Warriors charged past Great Falls 84-59 on Thursday night at Warrior Gym. L-C improved to 20-4 overall and 4-2 in conference while the Argos -- a gritty but terribly overmatched club -- dropped to 5-14 and 0-6.
The Warriors, whose offense turned somewhat sporadic during a three-game road trip, connected on 63.8 percent of their shots. They also made 10 of 19 attempts from behind the arc.
Ray, L-C's leading scorer, chucked in 18 points on 6-for-9 3-point gunning. The junior's performance came on the heels of this unusual string: In the six previous games, Ray scored exactly eight points in each of them.
In the closing moments of the first half, Ray took a handoff from Danny Ball on the top of the key. Going to his left, Ray stopped at the elbow and heaved a 3-pointer over a Great Falls defender. It swished through with two seconds left, giving L-C a 42-24 edge.
Ray's triple at the start of the second half was the result of the Warriors' "best possession of the whole game," coach George Pfeifer said. After a series of cuts and passes, Ray sprang open on the right side.
L-C also got 18 points from Danny Allen and 13 apiece from Danny Ball and Martin Brothers.
The Argos were vaguely within reach during much of the second half, thanks largely to their 19 offensive boards.
"We spent time on that -- we spent time on that hard," Pfeifer said of boxing out. "We have a tendency right now that we're just kind of watching the ball and we're not finding our guy. We're trying to outjump people.
"(The Argos) really pursue it; they lead the Frontier Conference in offensive rebounding," the coach added. "And we did nothing to hurt their lead."
L-C was without backup point guard Ricky Frazier, who was serving a suspension that was a "basketball decision," Pfeifer said.
Allen, the starter at point, logged his heaviest minutes of the season. Midway through the second half, he produced three driving buckets to put Great Falls down by 17.
"I played a little more minutes than usual," Allen said, "but I was up for it -- as long as we got the win. After two consecutive losses, it's just good to get a win. And then we'll have to get another win Saturday."
After missing last weekend's loss to Westminster with a sore back, post James Idoko returned to the L-C lineup. He scored six points on 3-for-3 shooting and snatched six rebounds.
"He's a warrior," Pfeifer said. "He showed up on Monday, and we were going to rest him, and he said, 'No, I can go.' "
NOTES -- Pfeifer had this to say about Frazier's suspension: "It's a basketball decision, made in the best interest of Ricky Frazier and our basketball team. And I'm talking with him tomorrow." ... Great Falls post Rico Suazo was called for a technical foul after an altercation with L-C's Adam Trombley late in the second half. There were no punches, only soft shoves ... The Warriors will face Montana State-Northern on Saturday. The Lights (15-9, 3-3) lost 81-67 at Westminster on Thursday.
GREAT FALLS (5-14, 0-6)
Scott 5-14 0-0 14, Edwards 4-14 2-2 10, Cline 0-2 2-2 2, Suazo 4-12 3-7 11, Owens 1-8 0-0 2, Geniesse 2-6 2-2 7, Zimmer 0-2 3-3 3, Oram 1-1 1-2 4, Timmons 1-1 0-0 2, Edwards 1-1 2-3 4. Totals 19-61 15-21 59.
LEWIS-CLARK STATE (20-4, 4-2)
Idoko 3-3 0-0 6, Endsley 0-2 1-3 3, Tikker 2-2 0-0 4, Allen 5-8 6-6 18, Ray 6-9 0-0 18, Young 0-0 0-0 0, Ball 4-5 3-4 13, Pecht 0-0 0-0 0, Hansen 1-2 0-0 2, Brothers 6-11 1-3 13, Pitts 0-0 0-0 0, Trombley 3-5 1-4 7. Totals 30-47 14-23 84.
Three-point goals -- Great Falls 6-20 (Scott 4-10, Edwards 0-3, Geniesse 1-4, Zimmer 0-2, Oram 1-1), LCSC 10-19 (Endsley 0-1, Allen 2-5, Ray 6-9, Ball 2-3, Hansen 0-1). Rebounds -- Great Falls 31 (Owens 8), LCSC 33 (Brothers 8). Assists -- Great Falls 8 (Edwards, Cline 3), LCSC 18 (Endsley, Allen, Pecht 4). Total fouls -- Great Falls 21, LCSC 18. Fouled out -- Suazo, Owens. Technical fouls -- Suazo.