Warriors fall to Montana 64-52 in competitive exhibition game
MISSOULA, Mont. – Take away the turnovers, and the exhibition game between Lewis-Clark State College and the University of Montana might have had a surprising outcome on Thursday night. The Warriors hung with the NCAA Division I Grizzlies most of the way, but were plagued by 24 turnovers and fell by a final score of 64-52.
LCSC, an NAIA Division I school, used solid defense and a lot of hustle to keep the game from getting out of reach. The Warriors trailed by only 10, 33-23, at halftime, and were down nine, 59-50, with 2:15 left in regulation.
“The game would have been a lot different if we wouldn’t have turned the ball over 24 times,” said first-year LCSC head coach Brandon Rinta. “We did everything we needed to do except knock down a couple more shots and not turn the ball over so much.”
The Warriors were led by standout performances by transfers Nick Fromm and Donte Archie who finished with 13 points apiece. Fromm, a 6-foot-6 junior who played his last two seasons at North Idaho College, showed a ton of energy inside as he fought his way to five rebounds and three steals on the inside against a tall and talented Grizzlies’ lineup.
“That’s what he does,” said Rinta about the hustle and effort Fromm displayed. “That’s what he does every day in practice and in every game. If he lacks anything in size or ability he makes it up in hard work.”
After trailing by 18, the widest margin on the night, six minutes into the second half, Lewis-Clark State was able to trim the lead to 59-45 with 4:21 remaining. And from here the Warriors used a steal, four made free throws, and a fade-away jumper by Fromm to cut the lead to single digits for the first time since it was 15-7 in the first half.
Archie, a 6-foot-3 junior from Citrus Junior College, seemed to give the Warriors the scoring option they desperately needed the moment he entered the game. He finished 4-of-6 from the field, including 1-of-2 from behind the arc, and 4-for-5 at the foul line.
“I hope that’s what he can do,” said Rinta about Archie’s immediate impact on the offensive end. “Right now we have him coming in off the bench and that gives us a different look and more energy in the back court.”
Also turning in a big night was 6-foot-6 newcomer PJ Bolte who collected a game-high 10 rebounds and also showed his shooting touch from the outside by going 2-for-4 from 3-point territory. He finished with eight points.
Overall the Warriors shot 39.5 percent from the field, 81 percent at the foul line (17-of-21), and 33.3 percent from the outside (5-of-15). The Grizzlies shot 45.5 percent from the field, and were 3-for-13 from the outside (23.1 percent) and 11-of-15 at the line (73.3 percent).
With their outside game not working, the Grizzlies looked inside to 7-foot center Derek Selvig. Selvig led Montana with 15 points and gave the Warriors trouble down low until before being forced to leave the game six minutes into the second half with what looked to be an ankle injury.
Beyond Selvig, who also led the team with six rebounds, the Grizzlies’ offense was paced by Kareem Jamar and Mathias Ward who had 13 and 11 points, respectively. Ward hit a three with less than two minutes remaining to help squelch the Warriors’ comeback attempt.
Up against a team that finished second with a 12-4 record in the Big Sky Conference last season, the Warriors tied in rebounding 28-28, but were outdone 15-8 in steals, and 13-5 in assists.
Above all, the Warriors downfall was in protecting the basketball as their turnover total led to 29 points for the Griz.
“I think we just need to slow it down a little bit offensively,” said Rinta about how to cut down on turnovers in the future. “It’s just a matter of making good decisions.”
Up next the Warriors will face Washington State University in an exhibition game in Pullman, Wash., on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” said Rinta about his team’s next opponent. “But tonight’s game will help us. I think that it took us a few minutes to adjust to the speed and size of our opponent, and hopefully 48 hours from now we’ll be able to remember that and expect that out of the gates at WSU.”