Johnson sparks MSU-Northern rally over LCSC
LEWISTON, Idaho – Chris Johnson scored seven of his team-high 19 points during a critical stretch late in the second half to help the Montana State University-Northern men’s basketball team pull away from Lewis-Clark State for a 71-59 victory at the LCSC Activity Center on Thursday night.
MSU-Northern led 53-51 with just less than six minutes left in the game, but scored the next seven points of the game and held LCSC to just one field goal and four points over the next the five minutes to pull away for the win.
Johnson, the Lights’ dynamic 6-foot-1 senior guard, hit a jumper with 5:40 left to make it a 55-51 game. He added another field goal about a minute later and then buried a 3-pointer with 3:48 left that put the Lights up by 10.
With their third straight win, the Lights, ranked No. 21 in the NAIA, improved to 6-2 in conference play and 17-6 overall. The Lights remain one game behind Westminster in the league standings heading into a showdown between the two on Saturday night in Salt Lake City.
The Warriors fall to 2-6 in league play and 8-10 overall with their fourth straight loss.
Thursday’s contest was a see-saw battle with neither team gaining much of an advantage. Northern led by six twice midway through the second half, but each time LCSC managed to cut the margin to two.
The Warriors, however, couldn’t muster up much offense when needed. And things got worse in the second half when senior guard Curtis Allen, who led all players with 20 points, went to the LCSC bench with four fouls at the 6:11 mark. Even though he re-entered the game about two minutes later, LCSC could only score one basket from the field until the final minute of play. The Warriors also missed four free throws when MSU-Northern went on its 12-2 run late in the game.
Allen also finished with four rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot. Teammate Tanner McIntosh added 14 points, while Daniel Williams scored 11.
Derek Trembley added 15 points for the Skylights.
Both teams struggled from the field in the first half, which saw the Lights grab a 28-27 advantage at halftime. But after shooting only 41.7 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, the Lights lit it up in the second half with a 17-of-27 performance. Northern finished the game 27-of-51 from the field for 52.9 percent, while LCSC was 23-of-56 for 41.1 percent.
Both teams finished with 32 rebounds and the turnovers were fairly even as LCSC had one less with 15.
A key difference in the game was bench scoring. MSU-Northern picked up 23 points from its bench, while LCSC had 13 and only two from outside of Williams.
LCSC resumes play on Saturday when it plays host to the University of Great Falls at 8 p.m.