LCSC sees season come to an end with loss
HAVRE, Mont. – The third time wasn’t a charm for the Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball team. In fact, the Warriors found nothing charming about Tuesday night’s loss.
Scoring only two points in the final 5:26 of the first half and unable to cool off Montana State University-Northern’s 3-point shooting again, LCSC couldn’t get out of its hole in the second half and fell to the Lights 78-71 in the opening round of the Frontier Conference Tournament.
The loss was the third in as many games for the sixth-seeded Warriors against third-seeded MSU-Northern this season. In all three contests, the Warriors suffered a scoring lull that allowed the Lights to take control. And in each case, it meant Lights out for LCSC.
Unfortunately in LCSC’s case, Tuesday’s loss meant lights out for good on the year. The setback brought an end to the Warriors’ season as the team finished 14-15 overall, the only time this season LCSC fell below the .500 mark.
MSU-Northern, 22-9, advances to the tournament semifinals where it will take on Montana Western on Friday in Dillon. Montana Western defeated Montana Tech 84-65 also on Tuesday.
LCSC, which led early in the game, trailed only 19-18 when Markus Monroe scored his only bucket of the first half at the 5:27 mark.
MSU-Northern, however, scored the next seven points and outscored LCSC 12-2 during the rest of the half for a 30-20 halftime advantage.
“We were pretty stagnant on offense and that made us easy to guard,” LCSC assistant coach Tim Collins said. “We played well defensively in the first half, but they made some tough shots. We guarded them for 32 or 33 seconds and then they’d get a tough shot off and buried it.”
LCSC got the lead down to five at 33-28 early in the second half, but the Lights responded with an 11-4 run for a 44-32 lead with 14:29 remaining.
After the Lights led by as much as 14, LCSC cut the margin to eight at 51-43 with 9:03 left and then to six at 58-52 with 5:48 remaining. However, MSU-Northern responded with a 6-0 run for a 64-52 advantage and LCSC could get no closer than seven the rest of the way, which came on a 3-pointer with less than 10 seconds to play.
Collins said LCSC was most successful when it dictated the tempo and flow of the game.
As in the two regular season games, MSU-Northern hurt the Warriors with its 3-point shooting, which was a big difference in the game. In the previous games, the Lights were a combined 18-of-37 from the 3-point line for 48.6 percent accuracy.
In Tuesday’s contest, MSU-Northern connected on 11-of-20 3-point attempts, including 7-of-10 in the second half, for 55 percent accuracy. In the three games combined, Northern was 29-of-57 for 50.9 percent. On the season, Northern shot only 36 percent from the 3-point line.
Andrew Sellers led the Lights’ charge with a game-high 22 points. He was 6-of-9 shooting from the field, including 5-of-7 from the 3-point line. Eric Tisby added 17 points, while Justin Dennis had 16. The three were a combined 10-of-16 from the 3-point line.
Northern finished the game 25-of-49 from the field for 51 percent accuracy, and was 17-of-24 at the foul line, most coming in the final five minutes when LCSC was forced to foul and shoot 3-pointers.
LCSC finished a respectable 27-of-56 from the field, 48.2 percent, and wound up 6-of-12 at the 3-point line. LCSC also was 11-of-15 at the foul line.
Northern had a small rebounding advantage at 31-27 and both teams finished with 11 turnovers.
Monroe led LCSC with 16 points, while another junior guard, Jared Giammona, added 13 points. Senior post Tanner McIntosh added 12 points and tied fellow senior Daniel Williams for team-high rebounding honors with five.
Collins also pointed to the play of freshman forward Greg Shepard in the game.
LCSC loses three seniors from this year’s squad, McIntosh, Williams, and James Craft.