Warriors get dirty with Orediggers; L-C men have to scrap for 59-45 winBy MATT BANEY
OF THE TRIBUNE
Two nights earlier, when the Lewis-Clark State men were making one of the NAIA's most potent scoring teams look like a crew of rec league hacks, the Warrior fans were probably warming up to their team's new defense-first philosophy.
But squads that specialize in D don't always collect the handsomest of victories. Sometimes they have to drag wins out of dark alleys -- like L-C did in a 59-45 Frontier Conference decision over Montana Tech on Saturday night at the Activity Center.
The Orediggers (5-18, 0-7) certainly don't have the pedigree of Montana-Western, which the Warriors humbled 65-43 on Thursday. But the visitors from Butte, Mont., stuck timely 3-pointers and dared 11th-ranked LCSC to beat them with outside shots.
"Against their defense -- which is just a completely packed-in, man-to-man defense -- you've got to jump up and make some jump shots," Warriors coach George Pfeifer said. "And if we're going to have some success when we go out on the road into Montana in the future, we're going to have to shoot the ball better than we did."
After staying within five points in the first half, the Orediggers got triples from Davin Blixt and Kellen Ori right after halftime. Those bombs gave them a 30-27 edge.
This is where the Warriors (18-5, 6-1) finally seized control. John Moore converted an ally-oop layin and hit two free throws, followed by a pair of buckets from James Idoko.
Five minutes later, L-C culminated a 22-5 flurry with a Joey Ray 3-pointer. That made the margin 14 points, and the Warriors never let it slip back below double figures.
After his club's win over the No. 18 Bulldogs, Pfeifer tried to guard against a letdown. During the Warriors' pregame preparations, he mentioned that Washington State snapped a 38-game losing streak to Arizona earlier in the day.
But LCSC wasn't inspired early on. With 7 1/2 minutes left in the opening half, it was 12-12.
"We just ran out offense like we were in 6 inches of water," Pfeifer said. "People who cut didn't cut quickly and crisply because they didn't think their option was going to be open. It's not about your option; it's about our options."
The Warriors' second-half improvement was led by Idoko, who scored eight of his 11 points after the break. L-C got a team-high 19 points from Moore while Danny Allen added 11 points.
The Warriors made 22 of 64 shots (36.7 percent). That's the sort of performance they probably wouldn't be able to overcome on the road. (And five of their final seven regular-season games will be away from Lewiston.)
"When we get into some gnarly situations," Pfeifer said, "we've got to put up some more points than what we just put up. Fifty-nine -- my goodness gracious.
"We can't quit working on our staple," he added, referring to their defense, "but on the other side of the coin, we've got to get our offense at a different level."
NOTES -- LCSC forward Martin Brothers fell awkwardly on his back when crashing the boards five minutes into the second half. He didn't return to the game, but Pfeifer said he expects him to play next week.
MONTANA TECH (5-18, 0-7)
Harman 6-10 1-2 15, Blixt 5-20 0-0 13, Briggs 1-2 0-1 2, Anderson 1-3 0-1 3, Ori 1-5 1-2 4, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Cleveland 2-6 1-1 6, Redekopp 1-6 0-1 2, Herbst 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 17-57 3-8 45.
LEWIS-CLARK STATE (18-5, 6-1)
Moore 8-12 3-4 19, Idoko 3-10 5-8 11, Brothers 0-3 1-2 1, Allen 4-13 2-2 11, Bishop 1-3 0-0 2, Jaekel 0-1 0-0 0, Ray 3-9 0-0 8, Frasier 0-0 0-0 0, Wilson 1-2 0-0 3, Pitts 1-6 0-0 2, Tikker 1-5 0-0 2. Totals 22-64 11-16 59.
Halftime score -- LCSC 27, MT 24. Three-point goals -- MT 8-25 (Harman 2-3, Blixt 3-13, Anderson 1-1, Ori 1-2, Cleveland 1-4, Redekopp 0-2); LCSC 4-13 (Allen 1-6, Jaekel 0-1, Ray 2-4, Wilson 1-2). Rebounds -- MT 41 (Redekopp 9); LCSC 48 (Pitts 11). Assists -- MT 5 (Anderson 3); LCSC 8 (Allen 3). Total fouls -- MT 15; LCSC 15. Fouled out -- none. Technical fouls -- none.