Turnovers hurt Warriors in setback
GREAT FALLS, Mont. - The Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball team got off to a hot start against the University of Great Falls during their Frontier Conference matchup on Saturday night.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, hot turned to cold.
After racing out to a seven point lead on two occasions in the first half, LCSC’s shooting touch cooled off while Great Falls heated up as the Argos gradually pulled away in the second half for a 79-56 triumph.
Compounding LCSC’s problem were 19 turnovers, most of which led to fastbreak opportunities and points for the Argos.
“In the second half we had too many turnovers and missed too many shots,” LCSC coach Brandon Rinta said. “They (the Argos) are a very long and athletic team. The problem was our turnovers and missed shots were leading to transition buckets that we were not able to defend.”
The loss was the third straight for the Warriors, who finish the first half of conference play at 2-5. Overall LCSC is 13-8. UGF improves to 3-4 in league and 15-7 overall.
The Warriors led 15-8 and then 26-19 with 8:40 left in the first half. But after needing only 11 minutes and 20 seconds to get 26 points, the Warriors spent the final 28:40 scoring just 30.
“I thought we played all right in the first half,” Rinta said. “We came out of the gate playing well. We broke their pressure and attacked it, which helped us get off to a decent start. But we had way too many turnovers that led to easy baskets for them.”
The key stretch was the final 8:40 on the first half when UGF turned the seven-point deficit into a six-point lead. The Argos used a 17-4 run for a 36-30 halftime advantage.
The Argos then used a 12-5 run to start the second half for a 48-35 advantage. The Warriors did get it down to eight at 52-44 with less than 10 minutes remaining and trailed by 10, 59-49 with 7:48 left, but UGF outscored LCSC 20-7 the rest of the way.
Because they were playing from behind the second half, the Warriors attempted a season-high 30 3-pointers in the game, but hit only five for 16.7 percent accuracy.
“That number is a little inflated because shot a lot of 3s at the end of the game,” Rinta said.
Overall, the Warriors finished 23-of-61 from the field for 37.7 percent. LCSC shot just 10-of-34 (29.4 percent) in the second half, including 2-of-18 at the 3-point line.
Great Falls was 26-of-53 from the field for 49 percent despite going 2-of-15 from the 3-point arc. Despite losing to Montana State-Northern on Friday night, LCSC’s defense held its two weekend opponents to just 3-of-30 shooting (10 percent) from the 3-point line.
“We are doing some good things defensively,” Rinta said. “We had a decent defensive effort tonight. They were pretty athletic at the No. 4 spot and we eventually had to go to a four-guard lineup to defend them at that position. My only complaint is our transition defense and that goes back to too many turnovers.”
Senior Darin Stewart, who was held to one point on Friday, led the Warriors with 17 on 7-of-12 shooting from the field. He also had three rebounds, three assists, and two steals. PJ Bolte added 16 points on 7-of14 shooting and eight rebounds, while Donte Archie added 11 points and five boards.
Marcel Towns had a game-high 21 points for UGF.
“It was a tough road trip playing two really good teams on back-to-back nights,” Rinta said. “I thought our guys competed, we just had some mental mistakes with the turnovers.”
LCSC will play four of its final seven games at home, starting next week when it entertains Montana Tech on Thursday and Montana Western on Saturday. Both games begin at 7:30 p.m. at the LCSC Activity Center.