LEWISTON – A short bench didn’t prevent the 3-0 Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball team from playing its up-tempo style on Tuesday night.
The Warriors overcame a cold-shooting first half and a much-improved Walla Walla University team in a non-league victory at the Activity Center, powering past the Wolves for an 85-60 win.
LCSC was missing guards Jacob Champoux and Kale Schmidt due to injury on Tuesday, and lost another, Trey Sobotta, to a sprained ankle early in the second half of the game.
Even so, the Warriors pressed the action after halftime and used its speed and quick-strike ability to get easy buckets against Walla Walla (0-6), which seemed to run out of gas.
“I think they just wore down,” Warrior coach Brandon Rinta said of the Wolves, who are coached by his former Yakima Valley Community College teammate and good buddy Jimmy Hill. “We passed the ball a lot better in the second half, and you always look better offensively when the ball’s moving.”
The Warriors went on a 22-4 run over an eight-minute span in the second half to put away the Wolves, who had climbed back to within nine on a 3-pointer by James Thorn with 12 minutes left on the clock.
Shooting from deep was a big weapon for Walla Walla early in the game, as the Warriors made five 3-pointers in the first half with four coming in quick succession after LCSC took an 8-0 lead.
The momentum from those threes propelled the Wolves for the majority of the first half, but a rash of fouls on Walla Walla just before halftime allowed the Warriors to build a seven-point lead at the break.
LCSC went 8-for-8 at the line in the last 2:05 of the opening stanza.
While the Wolves were firing away from beyond the arc, the Warriors were shooting blanks. LCSC missed their first 10 3-point attempts before Joseph Moquino finally drained one 8:45 into the second half.
Moquino added another, and Donte Archie also sank a triple during the big run that closed out the Wolves.
In between the deep shots Lewis-Clark State went wild on the glass, grabbing 29 boards after halftime and extending possessions against the tiring Wolves.
“It’s one of the things that we really need to do to be successful,” Rinta said of his team’s rebounding. “To get 15 second chance points is huge for us. Danny (Marshall) had 12 rebounds tonight even though he only had four points. That’s what we need from him.”
P.J. Bolte led all scorers on Tuesday with 20 points, and tacked on seven rebounds.
Robert Ellis and Moquino each had 14 for the Warriors, and Archie chipped in 11.
Tristan Greenidge led Walla Walla with 13 points, and Thorn added 12.
The Warriors were typically active on the defensive end, forcing 28 Walla Walla turnovers and creating 19 steals.
It was a good test for Lewis-Clark State heading into this weekend’s Clearwater River Casino Invite, when the Warriors will square off with College of Idaho on Friday night and Concordia (Ore.) on Saturday. Carroll will also be in town to round out the four-team field.
Notes: On the injury front, Rinta said that Sobotta’s ankle injury would likely keep him out a few weeks, a tough blow for the Clarkston native and the Warriors, who have dealt with the injury bug during the opening stage of the year. Rinta added that Schmidt (concussion) was doubtful for the weekend, but Champoux (ankle) would likely return to the lineup.