LEWISTON – The Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball team erased a 12-point halftime deficit to force overtime on Saturday night against Concordia (Ore.) in the final game of the Clearwater River Casino & Resort Invitational, and dominated the extra frame en route to a 92-81 victory over the Cavaliers.
It was a physical and hard-fought game throughout and one that didn’t see the Warriors take their first lead until Robert Ellis hit a 3-pointer with 1:16 to go in regulation to give LCSC at 75-74 advantage. It was Ellis’ only made trifecta in seven attempts on Saturday, but it came at the right time for the Warriors.
Lewis-Clark State never relinquished the lead after that point, outscoring Concordia (2-1) 17-6 in overtime to earn the victory.
“A win like this builds our confidence. We’re learning to trust each other, and we had a lot of guys step up tonight,” said LCSC forward P.J. Bolte, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after averaging 25.5 points and nine rebounds in the team’s two victories.
Jacob Champoux had 18 of his 22 points in the second half and overtime for the Warriors, including three 3-pointers in the last 5:35 of regulation.
The junior guard, who missed a week of action with an ankle injury, had a chance to win the game at the second-half buzzer, but his short jumper off an isolation play in the lane rolled off the rim.
“It was tough not having him last week. He might be the best shooter we have, and he was great out of our 1-4 flat stuff tonight,” Warrior coach Brandon Rinta said of Champoux, who joined LCSC’s Nick Fromm on the All-Tournament team. “It was pretty shocking to us that he missed that shot at the buzzer, but he’s going to be a big part of what we do the rest of the way.”
It was a banner night on the boards for the Warriors. The team grabbed 58 rebounds in the game against 48 for Concordia, and the Warriors kept possessions alive with 23 offensive boards. Fromm led the way with 14 rebounds.
After watching Concordia guard Willy Ligon erupt for 25 points in the first half on 9-for-11 shooting, Donte Archie held him to just four points in the second half on 2-for-10 from the field. The complexion of the game was altered dramatically when Ligon picked up his fourth foul with 14:35 to go in regulation, and he sat out for the next seven minutes. LCSC narrowed Concordia’s deficit from eight to two during that time.
“Our guys thought they were watching (former Brigham Young star) Jimmer (Fredette) in that first half,” Rinta said of Ligon’s 25-point stanza, which included fadeaway jumpers at seemingly impossible angles. “It was as unbelievable of a single performance as I’ve seen. We certainly needed to pick it up defensively in the second half and we did that.”
Powered by an energetic performance from Clarkston native Tommy Sperry, the Warriors cut Concordia’s 12-point halftime lead to five within the first four minutes of the second half.
Sperry finished with 12 points and five rebounds in the game.
“It was Tommy’s best night with us, by far,” Rinta said of the redshirt freshman forward. “He just has a relentless motor. He’s still picking some things up on both ends of the floor, but he never stops. He made great things happen tonight.”
With 26 seconds to go in regulation, Archie fouled Cavalier forward Adam Herman on a play in the post, sending the All-Tournament pick to the line with his team trailing by one.
Herman, who led the NAIA in field goal percentage last season and averaged over 20 points per game, made the first free throw to tie the game, but missed the second. After the Warriors called timeout, Champoux missed his shot in the lane. It was a missed opportunity that Concordia coach Brad Barbarick lamented after the game.
“If Adam makes that free throw, we wind up getting the stop we needed and we probably win the game,” Barbarick said. “It didn’t go our way tonight, and that’s a really good team. They did a really good job on Adam.”
Herman scored 28 points on 10-for-13 shooting in the Cavs’ 77-74 win over Carroll in their first game of the tournament on Friday, but was held to 14 by the Warriors. Nine of those points came in the second half and overtime.
“I just tried to limit his touches,” said Bolte, who had the defensive assignment on Herman for most of the evening. “He loves to go right, and we tried to deny him the ball as much as we could.”
Herman was named to the All-Tournament team along with Fromm, Champoux, Ligon and Taylor Pruett from the College of Idaho.
The Warriors resume their non-league slate with a pair of games in Spokane next weekend. They’ll play Northwest University at 5 p.m. on Friday and Northwest Christian at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
“We have to feel good about where we are, but it doesn’t get any easier,” Rinta said. “We’re going to enjoy this one, though.”
2012 Clearwater Casino & Resort Men’s Basketball Invitational
Most Valuable Player: P.J. Bolte, sr., F, Lewis-Clark State College
Jacob Champoux, jr., G, Lewis-Clark State College
Nick Fromm, sr., F, Lewis-Clark State College
Willy Ligon, jr., G, Concordia (Ore.)
Adam Herman, jr., F, Concordia (Ore.)
Taylor Pruett, jr., F, College of Idaho