SALT LAKE, Utah – It’s not the Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball team is stuck in repeat mode, but those second half scoring lulls certainly are becoming a common theme in the Warriors’ Frontier Conference losses.
It happened again Saturday night when the Warriors were going toe-to-toe with Westminster but then went through a 10-minute stretch where they only scored six points, including four on free throws, and suffered a 69-53 setback to the Griffins.
The loss put a serious dent in the Warriors’ hopes of finishing in the top four in the conference and thus earning a home game in the first-round of the conference tournament. With two conference games remaining, LCSC is 5-7 in league and two games behind Carroll, Westminster and Montana State-Northern, who are in a three-way tie for second place. The Warriors are 16-10 overall.
Westminster, which would have fell into a tie with LCSC in the league standings with a loss on Saturday, is 19-19-9 overall to go with the 7-5 league mark.
For the first 24 minutes, LCSC appeared ready to move into the top half of the league with a win. The Warriors led early and then erased an eight-point deficit in the first half to eventually take a 29-27 lead at halftime.
“I thought we had a decent first half,” LCSC coach Brandon Rinta said. “We got down a little bit but battled back to lead at halftime.”
The Warriors, however, made only two field goals in the first 14 minutes of the second half, and nine overall, as Westminster was able to outscored LCSC 42-24 in the final 20 minutes.
“We just came out flat as a pancake in the second half,” Rinta said. “We just didn’t defend quite as hard and in the first half we were on fire shooting the ball. In the second half we couldn’t make a basket.
Post PJ Bolte, who led LCSC with 17 points, scored LCSC’s first bucket of the second half at the 16-minute mark to cut Westminster’s lead to 34-32. Joey Wayman added a 3-pointer with 12:01 to make it 40-35.
LCSC, however, didn’t score from the field again until Bolte hit a jumper with 5:42 left. By that time, Westminster had built up a 54-40 advantage. The Warriors never got closer than 14 the rest of the way.
“There was about a three-minute stretch in the second half where the wheels just came off,” Rinta said. “We were missing shots and they hit some 3s. They hit three or four 3s during that stretch and broke the game open.”
The second half lull was a complete opposite from the first half when LCSC hit 12-of-21 shots from the field for 57.1 percent. The Warriors went 9-of-32 in the second half and finished the game 21-of-53 for 39.6 percent. Included in that total was a 3-of-19 showing at the 3-point line for 15.8 percent.
Westminster warmed up in the second half and went 18-of-32 (56.3 percent) and finished the game 30-of-61 for 49.2 percent. The Griffins also hit four of their five 3-pointers in the second half.
Westminster’s bench played a big role in the win. The Griffins’ bench supplied more than half of the team’s total with 36 points, while LCSC’s bench had 17. Westminster also had a 34-20 advantage with points in the paint.
Bolte finished one rebound short of a double-double as he led the Warriors with nine boards. Donte Archie added nine points and six boards, while Spencer Drury had seven points and five rebounds.
AJ Reilly was one of five Westminster players in double figures with 11 points.
The Warriors wrap up the regular season this week at home against Great Falls on Thursday and Montana State-Northern on Saturday. Both games are scheduled tip off at 7:30 p.m. at the LCSC Activity Center. Saturday’s contest also will be Senior Night and the Warriors will honor their three seniors in Jeray Key, Darin Stewart, and Ray Stout.