CALDWELL, Idaho – It came down to another shot at the buzzer, but this time the shot didn’t go in and the Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball team was able to hang on for the victory. The Warriors took down host College of Idaho 53-50 on day one of the Duane Wolfe Memorial Golden Rule Shootout on Friday.
After having been upset by a final-second shot in a 73-72 loss to Southern Oregon a week ago, the Warriors were relieved to see the Coyotes’ game-tying 3-point attempt clang hard off the back of the rim.
“This is a good win for us against a good opponent on their floor,” said LCSC head coach Brandon Rinta. “I was really pleased with our defense tonight.”
With both teams quickly tallying turnovers and steals, the lead in the first half went back and forth with neither team gaining an advantage of more than three points. The first half ended with the College of Idaho up 25-24.
In the second half, the Warriors were able to find a rhythm and with back-to-back 3-pointers by Joey Wayman and Darin Stewart created a lead of 37-31 with 14:30 left in regulation. Two jumps shots later by Nick Fromm and the NAIA Division I Warriors reached their largest lead of 43-31 with 9:10 remaining.
“I thought we bounced back well in the second half,” said Rinta. “We were able to spread them out some which allowed us to get some open shots from the outside and thankfully we knocked them down.”
College of Idaho, ranked No. 25 in NAIA Division II, used scrappy defense to force four turnovers in the next three minutes and respond with a 9-1 scoring run to make the game 44-40 with 5:50 on the clock.
Helped by two key offensive rebounds and put-backs by Danny Marshall, the Warriors scored enough down the stretch to hold the lead and force the Coyotes to foul with less than a minute to go.
With nine second left and down 52-50, the Coyotes fouled LCSC’s Donte Archie to stop the clock. Archie went to the line to shoot double-bonus free throws, making the first but missing the second. The Coyotes rebounded the ball and quickly got it up court to an open Matt Ballenger whose shot from straightaway, a few feet behind the 3-point, was a little too strong.
Lewis-Clark State is now 3-1 on the season, while the College of Idaho drops to 2-4. The Warriors will take on Evergreen State at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Evergreen was defeated by Walla Walla University 82-75 in the first game on Friday.
The Warriors definitely made things harder than it could have been against the Coyotes as they committed 21 turnovers and made just 8-of-17 attempts at the free throw line (47.1 percent).
One area where LCSC didn’t lack was in rebounding as the team enjoyed a 39-29 advantage in boards. Marshall led effort with 12 boards total, six on offense and six on defense.
“College of Idaho is a great defensive team, but we still have to take better care of the basketball,” said Rinta. “Thankfully, what possessions we lost in turnovers we made up for in offensive rebounds.”
In scoring, Wayman hit 2-of-3 attempts from deep to lead LCSC with 11 points. Fromm and Archie dropped in 10 points apiece, and Spencer Drury added six points, three assists, and three steals.
The Warriors made 5-of-16 attempts from behind the arc (31.3 percent) to outdo the College of Idaho which went 2-for-12 (16.7 percent). LCSC shot 39.2 percent overall, while the home team shot 41.3.
Beyond individual scoring efforts, Rinta was quickest to praise the efforts of two of his players on the defensive end.
“I was really happy with Darin Stewart and Spencer Drury... They held College of Idaho’s leading scorer [Ballenger] to four points. They held him to 2-of-9 from the floor and he’s averaging 15 points a game.”
The Coyotes were led by Krispin Banks who had 14 points, and by Rick Tolman who finished with 10 rebounds, two blocks, and three steals. Rodney Delgardo added 11 points and four boards.