By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
Technical fouls are tricky thing in the game of basketball. Obviously, getting one against your team gives your opponent a pair of free throws and the ball, but sometimes it can be a great motivator for teams.
Montana State University-Northern head coach Shawn Huse was slapped with a technical foul early in the second half of Friday night's game against the University of Mary Marauders. For a few minutes it looked like it was going to hurt the Lights, but in the end it was more helpful than hurtful as the Lights prevailed 94-85
With Northern leading 47-39, referees saddled Huse with a questionable technical foul for stomping his foot on the sidelines at the same time a foul was being assessed on the Lights. After a short meeting, referees agreed the technical foul was called before the foul. Mary was awarded a pair of free throws and possession of the ball.
Mary's Anish Sharda sank both free throws and the Marauders got a score inside from Jamaal Smith to whittle the lead to 47-43 with 16:45 remaining in the game.
Instead of letting the ordeal affect them negatively, the Lights cranked up the intensity on both ends of the floor. A 3-pointer from Walter Runsabove ignited a 12-2 run for the Lights. A pair of driving layups and a 3-pointer from Lamar Morinia and a 3-point play from Travis Moran highlighted the run and pushed the lead to 64-45.
"Obviously, you don't want to get technical fouls," Huse said. "Walter hit a big 3-pointer to get us going and we went on a run that made up for the technical."
With 10:13 remaining, Northern took a 21-point lead on a pair of free throws from Larry Morinia. But Mary remained scrappy until the end. The Marauders fired at will from the perimeter and shots started falling.
Sharda's fifth 3-pointer of the game pulled Mary within seven points at 88-79.
The Lights had lost a pair of games after leading handily less than two weeks ago, so Huse was starting to find himself in some familiar and unpleasant territory.
"Their guards really did a good job defensively of taking us out of our rhythm offensively," Huse said. "They got their hands on some passes and it led to some easy scores."
With Mary trying desperately to get back into the game, Northern was able to stave off any last-second comebacks as the Morinia brothers sank six of six free throws to ice the game.
"I think we just get a little uptight," said Larry Morinia of Northern's recent difficulty in maintaining leads. "We all hate to lose so much that we're trying to do too much out there. We need to calm down at the end of the game because we've had the worst thing that can happen happen to us already."
Said Huse: "Our guys did a good job of weathering the storm there. We didn't play perfect, but we played a good game against a good team."
Larry Morinia led Northern with 27 points while brother Lamar added 14. Dustin Sawejka chipped in with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists.
"Offensively, I thought we had some good moments," Huse said. "We scored 94 points against a team that really tried to slow the pace down."
Indeed, on most Marauder possessions, they worked the shot clock down to under 10 seconds before even considering taking a shot, forcing Northern to play good defense for long stretches.
"It's definitely tough to play that style," Morinia said. "You get worn down playing defense for 25 seconds every possession and running through at least five picks."
Mary got a game-high 35 points from Sharda and 17 from Smith in its first loss of the season.
"I thought we did a good job defensively," Huse said. "They wanted to slow it down, but we were able to force enough turnovers to play at our tempo."
With the win, Northern improved its record to 7-4 and will travel to Billings for the Rocky Mountain College Invitational basketball tournament this weekend.
UNIVERSITY OF MARY (85)
Chuck Archambault 5-7 0-0 13; Anish Sharda 11-17 6-7 35; Matt Barton 3-5 2-4 9; Jamaal Smith 6-10 5-7 17; Alex Aldinger 1-2 0-0 2; Lance Doppler 1-2 0-0 3; Josh Franzen 0-3 0-0 0; Joey Steiner 1-1 0-0 2; Wayne Richards 0-0 0-1 0. Totals: 29-50 16-20 85.
Larry Morinia 7-11 11-11 27; Reid Stovall 3-5 0-0 6; Lamar Morinia 5-7 2-2 14; Dustin Sawejka 6-8 1-2 13; Trenton Harbaugh 3-4 1-1 7; Zach McLean 1-2 2-2 4; Walter Runsabove 1-3 1-2 4; Landen Grant 1-3 0-0 3; Berhane Williams 3-4 1-2 8; Travis Moran 3-4 2-2 8. Totals: 33-51 21-24 94.
Halftime: MSUN 43, UM 35 . Three point goals: UM 11-17 (Archambault 3-4, Sharda 6-8, Barton 1-1, Aldinger 1-2, Franzen 0-2), MSUN 7-10 (Larry Morinia 2-3, Lamar Morinia 2-3, Runsabove 1-1, Grant 1-2, Williams 1-1). Rebounds: UM 26 (Sharda 5, Smith 5); MSUN 20 (Sawejka 5) Assists: UM 2 (Doppler 1, Sharda 1); MSUN 9 (Sawejka 5). Total fouls: UM 26, MSUN 19. Fouled out - Franzen; Technicals - MSUN coach.