LCSC comes up short in overtime after rally and falls to Northern 70-65
HAVRE, Mont. – Despite some late-game heroics from Donnie Lao to force the game into overtime, the Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball team couldn’t quite pull off a second-straight tight victory and fell to Montana State University-Northern 70-65 in overtime to complete Frontier Conference regular season play on Saturday night.
Lao scored five points late in regulation, including a clutch 3-pointer with approximately 30 seconds remaining to tie the contest at 58. Northern then worked the clock for the last shot before the buzzer, but missed to force overtime.
In the extra five minutes, the Warriors were able to grab the early lead, but the Lights answered with a couple of 3-pointers and then hit their free throws down the stretch to hold off LCSC.
The win was huge for the Lights because they not only finished with a perfect 14-0 home record, but they also tied Carroll for the conference title, both with 10-4 records. MSU-Northern, which received votes in last week’s Top 25 poll, is 21-8 overall.
LCSC finishes the regular season at 16-11 overall and 6-8 in conference play, and will be the No. 5 seed when the conference tournament opens Wednesday. The Warriors will play No. 4 seed Westminster, a team it lost twice to during the regular season, on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Salt Lake City.
The rest of the conference tournament has No. 1 seed Carroll playing host to No. 8 Rocky Mountain, No. 2 MSU-Northern at home against No. 7 Montana Tech, and No. 3 seed Montana Western entertaining No. 6 seed Great Falls.
Carroll won the top seed over MSU-Northern based on head-to-head competition against conference foes, which LCSC played a big role in. Carroll and MSU-Northern both split against each other, and against No. 3 Montana Western and No. 4 Westminster. Carroll, however, swept No. 5 LCSC, while MSU-Northern split with the Warriors. The sweep gave Carroll the No. 1 seed in the tourney.
Even with a win on Saturday against MSU-Northern, the Warriors couldn’t improve on their No. 5 seed, but it would have allowed the club to enter the postseason with a two-game win streak. Instead, the Warriors suffered their fourth conference loss by five or less points.
Again, the Warriors put themselves in a hole early and trailed by 11 at halftime, 34-23. And like on the previous night, when it fought back from a 20-point deficit to win 71-70, the Warriors rallied in the second half and outscored the Lights 35-24.
LCSC finished the game 20-of-49 from the field for 40.8 percent and were 4-of-9 from the 3-point line. LCSC also shot well from the foul line at 21-of-26 for 81 percent.
MSU-Northern finished 23-of-55 from the field for 41.8 percent and was 6-of-19 from the 3-point line.
Lao led the Warriors with 16 points, while Darin Stewart added 12 and David Johnson 10. Alex King, despite going 1-of-8 from the field, finished with nine points and had a team-high seven rebounds.
Shaun Tatarka was one of four MSU-Northern players in double figures with 15 points.
In looking ahead to Wednesday, Westminster beat LCSC 82-70 in Salt Lake and 95-81 in Lewiston last week. The Warriors have lost their last six games against the Griffins over the past three seasons.