Donnie Lao hit 5-of-6 free throws in the final 51 seconds and scored a team-high 17 points to help the Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball team snap a four-game losing streak with a 62-55 win over Rocky Mountain in Frontier Conference play at the LCSC Activity Center on Saturday night.
Loa, a 6-foot-2 senior guard from Midvale, Utah, led a balanced Warrior attack as although no other LCSC player was in double figures, all 10 Warriors scored in the contest.
LCSC, now 15-9 overall and 5-6 in conference play, never trailed in the ballgame and led by as much as 11 in the first half before it settled for a 33-24 halftime lead.
The Warriors struggled a bit offensively with only two field goals in the first eight minutes of the second half, which enabled the Bears to cut the margin to 40-39.
Senior guard Jared Giammona gave the Warriors a spark by hitting a pair of 3-pointers to give LCSC some breathing room at 46-41. LCSC led by as much as eight with less than seven minutes remaining, but RMC’s EJ Ross scored on a three-point play and then hit a 3-pointer to cut the margin to 57-53 with 1:45 left.
The Warriors then ran the shot clock down on their next possession before attempting a shot. Despite a miss, LCSC managed to grab the offensive rebound and run the clock down again before Lao was fouled. Lao made both free throws with 51 seconds left for a 59-53 lead.
Rocky Mountain managed an answer when Sergio Trocha scored with 25 seconds left, but the Bears were forced to foul. Lao made two free throws with 23 seconds left, and after the Bears missed a 3-pointer, Lao was fouled and made 1-of-2 attempts with 13 seconds left. The Bears again missed a 3-pointer and LCSC was able to run out the clock to preserve the win.
LCSC, which had lost six of its last seven, remained in fifth place in the conference standings as it tries to get back into the top four. The top four teams will play home games during the opening round of the conference tournament. LCSC has three games remaining, including next Saturday’s contest at home with Westminster.
Rocky Mountain falls to 3-7 in league and 10-16 overall.
Shane Miller and Giammona added nine points apiece for LCSC. Donte Roberts added nine rebounds and two blocks, while Ray Stout had eight rebounds, along with five points and five assists.
For the night, LCSC was 22-of-57 from the field for 38.6 percent and 6-of-21 from the 3-point line for 28.6 percent. The Warriors, however, were only 12-of-22 at the foul line for 54.5 percent. Rocky Mountain was 24-of-70 from the field for 32.9 percent and 6-of-20 from the arc for 30 percent.
LCSC had a 46-43 rebounding advantage and also had a 32-10 edge in points from its bench.
Ross led all players with 19 points, while Orlando Westbrooks had 13.
The Warriors and Westminster meet at 8 p.m. at the LCSC Activity Center for Senior Night. The contest is the last regular season home game for the Warriors and seniors Giammona, Derek Gianukakis, Lao, and Alex King will be honored.