LEWISTON, Idaho – Miguel Bocachica hit four 3-pointers to start the second half and the University of Great Falls defense forced 18 turnovers to help the Argos defeat Lewis-Clark State 75-59 in Frontier Conference play at the LCSC Activity Center on Thursday night.
After the Warriors made a nice rally and cut an 11-point Great Falls lead to four at halftime, Bocachica scored UGF’s first 12 points of the second half. Two of his 3-pointers were way beyond the arc and helped the Argonauts stretch the lead to seven after LCSC cut it to one.
The Warriors cut the lead to four points at 58-54 with 3:40 remaining, but turned the ball over on three of its next four possessions. That helped UGF go on a 17-5 run to end the game.
“Turnovers were the difference in the ballgame,” LCSC coach Brandon Rinta said. “You can’t turn the ball over like we did and expect to win.”
The victory moves UGF to 19-9 overall and into a key game at Westminster on Saturday. Both teams are 7-6 in league and tied with Carroll for third place in the conference standings. Only the top four teams earn home games in the first round of the conference tournament.
LCSC, which was hoping to crack into the top four, fell to 16-11 overall and 5-8 in league, which puts it in a tie for sixth place with Rocky Mountain. The Warriors will either finish sixth or seventh in the conference standings and will start the league playoffs on the road.
Great Falls used its athleticism early to create some turnovers and jump out to an 8-2 lead. After the Warriors cut it to 12-10, UGF guard Marcel Townes took over. Offensively, UGF spread the court, which allowed Townes to work one-on-one against a defender and he wound up with 13 of his 15 points in the first half.
Townes scored the first four points of a 12-3 run that put UGF ahead 24-13.
LCSC switched to a zone defense and got a spark from senior post Ray Stout to rally back and cut the lead to 32-28 at intermission.
After not being able to solve the Warrior zone in the first half, UGF turned to Bocachica in the second half and, along with a pair of 3-pointers from Leon Sutton, the Argos were able to open up a 56-42 lead.
LCSC put up one last 12-2 run to make it interesting at 58-54, but some costly turnovers turned into transition buckets for the Argonauts. UGF scored 28 points in the game off of LCSC turnovers.
For the game, UGF was 8-of-20 from the 3-point line, including 5-of-7 for Bocachica. He joined Ken Anderson and Townes with 15 points apiece.
LCSC, which wound up with 18 turnovers, did outrebound the Argonauts 40-23 in the game and LCSC also had 20 offensive rebounds.
PJ Bolte finished with a double-double as he scored 15 points and added 10 rebounds. Darin Stewart added 11 points, while Stout scored 10 and added seven boards.
LCSC finished the game 21-of-57 from the field for 36.8 percent and 4-of-20 from the 3-point line for 20 percent.
The Warriors wrap up the regular season at home on Saturday night, hoping to play the spoiler role. LCSC entertains Montana State-Northern at 7:30 p.m. on Senior Night. MSU-Northern is tied for the conference lead with Montana Western.
LCSC also will honor its three seniors in the program on Saturday – Jeray Key, Stewart, and Stout.