LEWISTON, Idaho – P.J. Bolte scored 29 points on 9-for-11 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds as the Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball team had arguably its best performance of the young season in an 82-70 win over the College of Idaho on Friday night.
It was the first of two games for both teams at the Clearwater River Casino & Resort Invite, which will continue on Saturday.
Concordia (Ore.) beat Carroll 77-73 earlier Friday evening.
But Friday’s late game belonged to Bolte and the 4-0 Warriors, who shot 56 percent (29-for-52) from the field in the game and enjoyed a rare size advantage over the smaller Coyotes (1-3).
Bolte didn’t miss a field goal until a chip-shot layup rimmed out with seven minutes to go in the game. He rebounded his own miss and was hacked on the way up, promptly converting the two ensuing free throws.
The 6-foot-6 senior from Tacoma, Wash. was 11-for-15 from the line in the game, including 6-for-8 from the stripe in the second half.
With the exception of the missed layup and an errant 3-point attempt shortly afterward, Bolte was perfect on Friday. Warriors coach Brandon Rinta was most impressed by the fact that the rangy forward never strayed too far from the rim.
“It was great to see,” Rinta said. “All of our bigs were really good tonight and they were working really hard in there. We’ve got to play inside-out and P.J. is certainly capable of having nights like this.”
Fellow LCSC post Nick Fromm complemented Bolte’s effort with 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting, as 50 of the Warriors’ 82 points were scored in the paint.
Given College of Idaho and coach Rod Jensen’s reputation as a defensive-minded outfit, the Warriors’ carving of the Yotes inside was particularly impressive.
“I really liked our 21 assists, especially six each from Jacob (Champoux) and Donte (Archie),” Rinta said. “It was obvious from the beginning of the game that we needed to get the ball inside against this team, and we did a good job of that.”
The Yotes had some early success defensively, forcing the Warriors into turnovers and converting them into easy buckets on the other end.
But Lewis-Clark State went on an 8-0 run near the end of the first half and built a 13-point lead going into the break.
Joseph Moquino hit a pair of 3-pointers early in the second half to widen the gap even further for LCSC, a divide that reached as high as 18 points.
College of Idaho fought back though, and got the deficit down to eight with 5:30 to go, but the Warriors always seemed to find Bolte diving to the basket or sealing out a smaller Coyote defender for easy buckets when they were needed.
“They run a really good motion offense, and I thought we got screened a little too often tonight,” Rinta said. “They want to make the game ugly and get into you, and you have to be strong with the ball against them.”
Guard Rodney Delgardo led the Yotes with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting, and Taylor Pruett chipped in 15.
When the Invite resumes Saturday afternoon, the Yotes will take on Carroll at 5:30 p.m. before the Warriors square off with Concordia at 7:30 p.m. at the Activity Center.
“They have a lot of talent offensively, and they play free and loose on that side of the ball,” Rinta said of the Cavaliers. “It’s going to be a huge test for us defensively and it should be a great preseason matchup. We’ll have our hands full.”