By Ryan Divish
It wasn't the type of weekend that Montana State University-Northern men's basketball coach Shawn Huse hoped for or expected.
The Lights squandered double-figure second-half leads in a pair of losses to Montana Tech and UM-Western this past weekend.
After handily disposing both teams earlier this season in Havre, Huse was confident about his team's chances on the road. However, little mistakes plagued the Lights all weekend.
"You'd like to think if you're better top to bottom on paper you should win these games" Huse said. "But we learned this weekend that maybe we're not that much better than these teams."
Northern squandered a 16-point second-half lead against Montana Tech on Friday night and was forced to go to two overtimes before falling to the Orediggers, 107-106.
Already playing without Zach McLean, who was out with an injured knee, Northern had three players foul out in the second half.
"The foul trouble hurt us," Huse said. "We were pretty thin up front in the overtimes and it affected us both offensively and defensively."
Still, the Lights appeared to have the game won as Lamar Morinia gave Northern a 106-104 lead with seven seconds remaining. However, Tech's Jeremy Rudolph raced the length the court and found teammate Shane Sutton wide-open in the corner. Sutton knocked down the three-pointer to take the lead. Northern had one last shot with 2.8 seconds remaining, but Larry Morinia's three-pointer from just inside of half court bounced off the rim.
Northern was led by the Morinias, who combined for 45 points while Charlie Ereaux added 19 points and Kent Douglas chipped in with 17.
The double overtime game against Tech proved costly a night later as Northern struggled in the second half and saw a 13-point lead dissipate in a 76-73 loss to the UM-Western Bulldogs.
After playing a stellar first half, Northern started to show the effects of the Tech marathon.
"I'm sure we were a little tired," Huse said. "We played about as good a half of basketball as we have all season in the first half. But the second half we just made too many mistakes."
The mistakes came in the form of turnovers - 16 second-half turnovers to be exact.
"They weren't even necessarily forced turnovers," Huse said. "They were just silly turnovers. It was difficult to watch. We really didn't have somebody step up and take over. We needed someone to step in and take charge in that situation."
Northern had four players in double figures led by Lamar Morinia with 16 points.
The losses drop Northern to 5-5 in the Frontier Conference and 18-10 on the season.
The Lights will host Rocky Mountain College and Carroll College this weekend.