Season comes to an end for LCSC men
HAVRE, Mont. – The Lights were on, at least for a half from the 3-point line.
Hitting 10 3-pointers, including seven in the first half, the Montana State University-Northern Lights shone bright in defeating Lewis-Clark State College 66-59 in the opening round of the Frontier Conference men’s basketball playoffs at the Armory Gymnasium on Thursday night.
The loss brought an end to a disappointing season for the Warriors, who were seeking their third straight conference tournament title. LCSC, the No. 6 seed in the playoffs, finish the season at 11-14.
MSU-Northern, the No. 3 seed, improves to 22-8 and advances to the semifinals on Saturday where they will play at No. 2 seed Rocky Mountain. The other semifinal has No. 4 seed Carroll at No. 1 seed Westminster, which defeated No. 8 seed Montana Tech by only 71-69 on Thursday. Saturday’s two winners will then play for the title on Tuesday.
The Warriors, nevertheless, didn’t go down easy. Despite trailing by 10 at halftime, the Warriors cut the margin to four points with a minute left and had a 3-point attempt with about 40 seconds left bounce off that could have cut the margin to one. The Lights kept the door open with their poor free throw shooting and a 3-pointer by Curtis Allen with 22 seconds left cut the margin to 62-59, but LCSC couldn’t get closer.
The Lights, who are third in the NAIA in 3-point shooting percentage at 41.2 percent and fourth in 3-pointers made per game at 9.2, lived up to that billing early. The Lights buried six 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes to take a 22-14 lead.
Senior guard Chris Johnson and Travis Noble, both 6-1, combined for seven 3-pointers and 31 points in the first half as the Lights took a 36-26 halftime lead. The two wound up combining for 10 3-pointers and 45 points in the game.
Johnson, who had 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting, hit six 3-pointers in the game, including a pair early in the second half to help the Lights lead by as much as 11. Noble, who had four 3-pointers and 21 points, had the Lights’ only 3-pointer in the final 12 minutes of the game.
Clay Greenland added nine points and nine rebounds for the Lights.
With LCSC being able to take away the 3-point shot for the later stages of the second half, and Northern going only 10-of-21 at the foul line in the game, the Warriors were able to chip away at the lead and stay close. LCSC trailed by five with 9:30 and 4:15 left, but Northern stretched the lead out to nine each time.
Junior forward Tanner McIntosh led the Warriors with 17 points and eight rebounds, while juinor guard Daniel Williams had 13 points off the bench. Senior guard Curtis Allen and freshman guard Terrell Wallace had 10 apiece.
The Warriors finished 23-of-52 from the field for 44.2 percent and just 2-of-12 from the 3-point line, 16.7 percent. Northern was 23-of-56 from the field 41.1 percent, but 30 of its attempts came from beyond the 3-point line. In the second half, Northern was only 3-of-15 from the 3-point line.
It was the third time MSU-Northern beat LCSC this season. The Lights won 71-59 in Lewiston and 67-56 in Havre during the regular season.
LCSC loses three seniors off this year’s squad – Brian Duckworth, Allen and Drew Arnold.