LEWISTON, Idaho – The No. 5 Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball team’s emphatic 78-46 victory over Dickinson State on Thursday night at the Activity Center, coupled with Montana Western’s last-second win over MSU-Northern, places the Warriors in control of their own destiny in their hunt for a Frontier Conference championship.
LCSC leads MSU-Northern by a half-game with three contests remaining on the conference schedule, and if the Warriors can win out, they will clinch their first regular-season league title since 2008.
First on that path will be Rocky Mountain College, which comes to call in Lewiston on Saturday night, with tip-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors (24-3, 9-3 Frontier) used a 20-4 run late in the first half to blow the game open against the visiting Blue Hawks (10-17, 3-8), and widened the lead in the second half.
Lewis-Clark State used a balanced offensive attack to vanquish Dickinson, making 50 percent of its 3-point attempts and scoring 46 points in the paint.
“Any time you shoot 50 percent from the three, it opens everything else up,” LCSC coach Brandon Rinta said. “Our three posts are so good, and they had a size advantage tonight that we used well.”
P.J. Bolte led all scorers with 16 points on 6-for-14 shooting, and Nick Fromm and Danny Marshall chipped in eight points apiece along the front line for the Warriors.
Jacob Champoux added 11 points and Joseph Moquino tacked on 10, going a combined 6-for-10 from beyond the arc for LCSC.
Robert Ellis had six assists and Donte Archie had four dimes on Thursday, and successfully pushed the tempo to fuel the Warrior spurt.
“Those two guys are so good at pushing the ball and finding guys,” Rinta said.
As has been the case on several occasions this season, Lewis-Clark State needed some time to find its footing at the beginning of the game.
A pair of free throws by Phillip Johnson, Jr. gave Dickinson State an 18-16 lead with 10:31 left in the first half, but Bolte drove on a Blue Hawk defender on the ensuing possession, making the bucket and completing the three-point play to give LCSC a 19-18 lead.
The Warriors never trailed again. That play started the 20-4 run that put them up 16 at halftime.
“We saw on film that the last three to five minutes of the first half is when they usually put teams away,” Dickinson State coach Ty Orton said of the Warriors. “They’re a phenomenal team, and Brandon is a phenomenal coach. I was very impressed.”
Jarek Hansen had 13 points to lead Dickinson State, which shot just 29 percent from the field as a team on Thursday.
Lewis-Clark State’s victory Thursday also sets up an impactful clash on Saturday night against Rocky Mountain, a team that dealt the Warriors their first loss of the season after an 18-0 start on Jan. 12. It will also be Senior Night at the Activity Center, with a pregame ceremony honoring Archie, Bolte, Fromm and Marshall.
“Rocky Mountain could be the most talented team in this league,” Rinta said. “They have two of the best posts in the league and two quick guards that are really good off the bounce. They make you defend, and we’re going to have to come out with the same defensive energy that we showed tonight. It’s certainly a big game here on Saturday, and we want to make sure we send our seniors out right.”