SPOKANE – When an opponent makes 17-of-35 attempts from 3-point territory, not too many teams are able to keep up. The Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball team did just though as it fought its way past Northwest University 89-79 at the Red Lion Challenge on Friday evening.
“It’s the best 3-point shooting performance that I think I’ve ever witnessed,” said LCSC head coach Brandon Rinta, whose team is off to its finest start on record in program history. “It’s amazing that we were able to overcome that.”
The victory lifts the Warriors to a perfect 6-0, one better than its previous record start of 5-0 set in 2007-08.
“It’s hard not to feel good right now,” said Rinta. “There are a lot of things that we can improve on, but to date we’ve been doing whatever is necessary to find a way to win. It hasn’t been the same way or the same person each game. We’ve just had different people step up on different nights.”
On Friday night, facing the best 3-point shooting team in the NAIA Division II, it was definitely a team effort for the Warriors, but Rinta was quick to tab senior Danny Marshall as the key to the game.
“The guy that got us going was Danny Marshall. I know it was the best game of his basketball career. He was huge for us inside.”
Northwest, which leads the nation in total 3-pointers made, hit 7-of-11 attempts from the outside to build a 12-point lead, 39-27, with a little over five minutes left in the first half. However, Marshall, a 6-foot-6 native of Spokane, Wash., scored six points in the final four minutes and blocked the final shot of the half to help close the gap to 44-41 at the break.
In the second half, the Warriors continued push the ball inside and keep the score close. LCSC finished with a 44-16 advantage in points in the paint and a 14-3 edge in second chance points, many of which were scored by Marshall.
“They’re a good defensive team and they played hard,” Rinta said about Northwest. “It’s just Danny had a good game, and was the difference inside. He was able to get deep post touches.”
With just under five minutes left in regular, LCSC’s Robert Ellis hit a three to knot the score at 74-74, the ninth tie of the game. From here the Warriors road the late-game shooting touch of Jacob Champoux for the win. Champoux, who shot the ball extremely well down the stretch in the team’s overtime win against Concordia (Ore.) last week, hit back-to-back threes and scored 10 points in the final four minutes to help seal the deal.
The Warriors shot a season-best 8-of-11 from 3-point territory for a staggering percentage of 72.7. The team finished with an overall shooting mark of 56.1 percent, compared to Northwest’s 56.3 percent.
“It was really good to see us shoot the ball real well, and we needed to because they (the Eagles) were collapsing in on our bigs.”
Champoux ended up leading the team with 25 points on 3-of-3 shooting from the outside and was 8-for-11 overall. Marshall finished with 20 points and a team-high eight rebounds and two blocks.
LCSC also did a great job of protecting the basketball, committing just nine turnovers to Northwest’s 17.
Ellis led the team with two steals and also had a team-high five assists to go with 12 points scored. P.J. Bolte also reached double digits as he turned in 11 points and had five rebounds.
Northwest, a Cascade Conference member out of Kirkland, Wash., was led by 19 points by Ryan Dornik who shot 6-for-12 from the outside. Michael Russo finished with 15 points, while Michael Greene had 14 and led the team with six rebounds.
The loss drops the Eagles to 6-2 on the year.
“It was a really good win for us,” said Rinta. “Northwest University is a really good team, and they played well tonight. We just so happened to make a few more shots.”
On Saturday, the Warriors look to remain unbeaten when they face Northwest Christian University as the Red Lion Challenge continues. Tipoff is at 3 p.m. and the game can be followed via live stats at this link: Red Lion Challenge.