HAVRE, Mont. – The No. 3-ranked Lewis-Clark College men’s basketball team snapped a two-game skid by defeating No. 12 Montana State University-Northern 79-65 on Saturday night. The win puts the Warriors in a three-way tie for first in the Frontier Conference.
LCSC, now 19-2 and 5-2 in league play, shot an incredible 82 percent in the second half to pull away from a team that is third in the nation in 3-pointers made and fifth in scoring margin.
“We had a really tough three-game road stretch and we were fortunate enough to get one of them tonight,” said LCSC head coach Brandon Rinta. “Our guys did a good job of getting the ball inside and just being patient.”
Many of their shots came from good passes and on the inside as LCSC led 40-16 in points in the paint. Warrior senior P.J. Bolte did the bulk of the damage on the inside and finished with 24 points, going 8-for-11 from the field and 8-for-8 at the foul line. Fellow post player Danny Marshall added 14 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
The Warriors trailed by nine, 21-12, midway through the first half, but used a 10-0 run to erase the deficit and build a 31-30 lead at the break. The scoring run included points by four different players, and nine of the 10 Warriors to touch the floor finished with at least four points.
“They (the Lights) came out and hit some shots and we were a little bit sluggish offensively. But the bottom line is we did a better job of taking care of the basketball and that helped us be successful.”
After committing 19 turnovers in their loss to Great Falls on Friday, the Warriors trimmed their miscues to 14 on Saturday.
The victory stands as the first time the Warriors have won in Havre since they defeated the Lights 74-61 on Jan. 13, 2007.
“It’s a special environment there,” Rinta said. “It’s difficult to win anywhere on the road in this league, but Armory Gymn has to be up there as one of the tougher places to win.”
LCSC ended up shooting 60.4 percent on the night. Northern shot 48.1 percent overall and was 7-of-22 from the outside.
The Lights were led by Roshawn West who had a game-high 27 points. Devin Jackson added 13.
MSU-Northern is now 17-4 on the year and joins LCSC and Great Falls atop the conference standings with a league mark of 5-2. The tie is sure to be broken up next week when the Warriors host the Lights on Saturday. The Warriors will also face Carroll on Thursday.
“It’s shaping up to be an extremely tight race. It’s a logjam up top and that’s making every single game all the more important.”
Rinta said that while his team is anxious to tackle Northern again at home, his team isn’t at all looking past Carroll, despite its 1-17 record.
“I guarantee you they’re the best one-win team in America. I would like to think that we’ve learned we have to bring it every single night during conference no matter who we’re playing.”