Warriors set record with 11 blocks in win
Jeray Key made a crucial three-point play with 2:12 left in the game to break a tie and teammate Donnie Lao went 4-for-4 at the foul line in the final 30 seconds to help the Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball team defeat Menlo College for the second time in a week, this time 71-67 at the LCSC Activity Center on Saturday night.
The Warriors, 7-2 overall, also defeated Menlo in Atherton, Calif., 83-61 last week, but unlike that contest, the Warriors couldn’t break away from the Oak, a NAIA Division II school, despite setting a program record with 11 blocked shots in the game.
LCSC trailed 10-9 but used a 9-0 first-half run to lead by as much as 13 at 28-15 with 5:09 left. The Oaks, however, wouldn’t go away and cut the margin to 35-29 at halftime.
Menlo, 2-7 overall, cut the margin to three twice early in the second half before LCSC got the lead back to double digits at 52-41 with 10:47 left. The Oaks again gradually chipped away at the Warrior lead and two free throws by Tyler Rajnus with 3:07 left tied the contest at 62.
After both teams missed 3-point attempts, Key, a 6-foot-1 junior guard, came up with his big play. Driving to the right into traffic, Key managed to draw a foul while throwing up an off-balance shot that hit nothing but net. He also sank the free throw to put the Warriors ahead 65-62. Alex King later scored a bucket on an inbounds play to put the lead at 67-62.
LCSC, however, committed a couple of fouls, including one on a 3-point attempt, and Menlo’s Julian Harris made all five of his free throw attempts. Fortunately for LCSC, Lao, a senior guard, countered with four free throws to help preserve the win in the physical contest that also featured a 20-minute delay in the first half when the power went out in the facility.
“You take that win, no doubt about it,” LCSC coach Tim Walker said. “I thought they (the Oaks) played well. We never had the run that we usually have but I am happy that we won a tight game.”
The Warriors had more of an inside presence in this contest, but it was also needed. LCSC hit only 1-of-11 3-point attempts in the contest, but did outscore Menlo 44-23 in the paint.
“I thought our inside game was as good as it’s been,” Walker said. “We left quite a few opportunities out there and we didn’t shoot the 3 well like we normally do.”
Donte Roberts, LCSC’s junior post, scored 10 of his team-leading 14 points in the first half, but ran into foul trouble and played only 14 minutes before fouling out. He still managed five blocked shots. David Johnson added 13 points and five rebounds, while Lao had nine points. King finished with eight points and two blocks, while Key had eight points, five assists, and five rebounds.
For the game, LCSC hit 25-of-63 shots from the field for 39.7 percent and 20-of-29 at the foul line for 69 percent. LCSC also forced 15 turnovers in the game and had nine steals.
Menlo hit 18-of-55 shots for 32.7 percent and 25-of-29 at the foul line for 86.2 percent. The Oaks had three players in double figures as Julian Harris finished with 20, while Andrew Young had 12, and Drew Davis 10. The three players, however, were a combined 11-of-32 from the field.
The Warriors will be back in action on Friday and Saturday when they play host to the four-team Life Flight Network Holiday Tournament. Friday’s pairings have Montana State-Northern and Azusa Pacific at 5:30 p.m., followed by LCSC and Portland Bible College at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, MSU-Northern and Portland Bible play at 5:30 p.m. and LCSC will face Azusa Pacific at 7:30 p.m. Azusa Pacific was ranked No. 1 in the NAIA preseason poll, but fell to No. 9 in the first-regular season poll.