Warriors rally from 19 down to defeat Carroll
HELENA, Mont. – On his third long bus trip to Montana in the last six weeks, Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball coach Brandon Rinta had plenty of time to run some game-winning scenarios through his head.
Trailing 12-0 and 23-4 like the Warriors did on Thursday night, however, certainly weren’t among them.
Yet even with the horrendous start, the Warriors managed to pull off one of their best comebacks in recent memory as senior guard Darin Stewart hit six 3-pointers in the second half and helped LCSC rally to a 66-64 win over Carroll College in Frontier Conference play on Thursday night.
Winning in this fashion is one thing, doing it on the road in perhaps the most hostile gym in the conference is another.
“I think it speaks volumes about this team,” Rinta said of the comeback. “It would have been real easy to just throw the towel in and say this is not our night. But nobody did.”
Stewart hit seven 3-pointers in the game for his 21 points. The seven 3-pointers tied him for the second spot with six other Warriors on the single-game record list. Bob Sobotta hit nine 3-pointers during the 1987-88 season.
Stewart, who also had six rebounds, wasn’t alone in the heroic department of the Warrior win, which moved LCSC into a tie for fourth place in the conference standings. LCSC is now 5-5 in conference play and 16-8 overall, while Carroll falls to 4-5 and 11-10.
“Really, I think what makes it most special from my angle that was it was really the three seniors who led us,” Rinta said of Stewart, Ray Stout and Jeray Key. “Stew stepped up and hit some big shots. Ray was big in the second half and Jeray kept ball moving and shut down (Ben) Cutler in the second half.”
Stout, a reserve post, scored seven points, all in the second half, and took a charge in the final 30 seconds. Key held Cutler scoreless in the second half and to six points overall after he scored 17 in an earlier matchup in Lewiston.
Also for LCSC, Donte Archie had seven rebounds and scored 10 points, three of which came on free throws in the final 12 seconds of play to ice the win. PJ Bolte had 11 of his 19 points in the second half when LCSC scored 44 points, almost double its 23 total of the first half. Bolte also had a team-high eight boards.
“I just told them that wasn’t us,” Rinta said of his halftime speech.. I don’t know who that was out there in the first half, but that wasn’t us. That’s not how we play. It wasn’t anything magical. We talked about brining more pressure, crashing the boards and making a few more shots. We were missing everything in the first half.”
The Warriors, who have had problems with second-half scoring lulls at times this season, appeared to be out of this one early. The Warriors didn’t pick up their first points until nearly five minutes into the game when Nick Fromm scored down low at the 15:15 mark to make it 12-2. At the 9:43 mark, it was 23-4, LCSC’s largest deficit of the night.
The Warriors began to inch their way back into the contest as Bolte scored eight points in the first half to help cut the margin to 28-16. However, Carroll pushed the lead to 17 at 35-18 before LCSC managed to get it back down to 12 at halftime, 35-23.
LCSC scored the first five points of the second half, but Carroll answered with a 9-3 run for a 44-31 lead.
With Stewart heating up, the Warriors made it interesting with the next nine points. A three-point play a little later by Stout made it 46-45 for Carroll.
The Saints pushed the lead back to five, but Stout came up big with a bucket down low to give LCSC its first lead of the game at 55-54 with 3:37 left.
The lead then exchanged hands four times, the last on a 3-pointer by Stewart. Carroll’s Dan Pearson hit a pair of free throws with 61 seconds left to tie the game at 60, but Stewart again hit a 3-pointer for a 63-60 lead with less than 30 seconds remaining.
Carroll’s Tony Dalton was fouled with 11.6 seconds left and made the first attempt, but missed the second on purpose with the intention of Carroll possibly getting the rebound and a chance to tie or take the lead. But Archie grabbed the rebound for LCSC and was immediately fouled.
Archie made 1-of-2 attempt for a 66-64 lead, but Carroll could only get off a long 3-point attempt at the buzzer that only hit the backboard.
LCSC’s defense also forced 14 turnovers in the second half and 22 in the game.
Andy Garland had 28 points and nine rebounds to pace Carroll.
LCSC will wrap up the road trip on Saturday when it takes on Rocky Mountain in Billings, Mont., at 7:30 p.m.