GREAT FALLS, Mont. – If there were any doubts that winning on the road in the Frontier Conference can be tough, Friday night’s game between No. 3-ranked Lewis-Clark State College and the University of Great Falls offered a strong argument. LCSC, which topped the Argos 82-56 at home earlier this year, was upended by Great Falls 64-59.
“The story of the night is—just like it was last Saturday—our 19 turnovers,” said LCSC head coach Brandon Rinta. “It’s hard to be successful on the road if you turn it over that many times.”
Despite the turnovers, the Warriors put themselves in a position to win. But the position was not good enough to withstand the abilities of UGF guard Marcel Towns.
LCSC trailed by around 5-10 points all night long, however, with 1:20 left in regulation Joseph Moquino nailed a 3-pointer to cut the Argo lead to 61-57.
After a Warrior timeout, the Argos brought the ball up the floor and into the hands of Towns. The junior, who was named last week’s NAIA Player of the Week, dribbled left and right before fading back and nailing a trey from straight away.
“That was a dagger. That was the stop we needed,” said Rinta. “I felt good about being able to force him into a pull-up, contested three, but I give him credit—he hit it.”
LCSC, which picked up its first loss of the season last week on the road against Rocky Mountain, hit a layup on the next position but came up empty on its next two 3-point attempts.
The loss knocks LCSC to 18-2, while Great Falls improves to 13-7. Both teams are now 4-2 in the Frontier Conference, one game behind league leader MSU-Northern (17-3, 5-1).
Towns finished with 20 points, while senior forward James Holmes added 16 points.
“We had trouble stopping Towns and Holmes. They’re just two really good players.”
P.J. Bolte had 17 points to lead a Warrior squad that shot 44.7 percent on the night, a number well below the team’s season average of 52.5 percent which ranks second in the nation.
Despite being ranked in the nation’s top 10 in 12 different categories, the team has struggled now and then with turnovers and that was the case on Friday.
“It’s something that we’ve emphasized all year because we’ve had our moments,” Rinta said. “We’ve teetered on the edge of having too many turnovers before, and this time it finally bit us.”
UGF, which had only five turnovers of its own, finished with a 12-3 lead in steals and a 13-5 advantage in points off of turnovers.
LCSC never led in the game, but cut the deficit to one point three times.
The Warriors will look for their first league win on the road on Saturday. However, the challenge will be stiff as they’ll face No. 12-ranked MSU-Northern. Tipoff is at 7 p.m., Pacific.
“This is a tough road trip and we’re going to regroup and play hard tomorrow. We just need to make better decisions with the basketball.”