Havre Daily News Sports Editor
The Montana State University-Northern men's basketball team may only be four games into the 2005-06 season, but Saturday afternoon in their home opener, the Lights proved they are ready to play some very sound basketball.
Former Havre High standout Cory Brothers scored a game-high 31 points to lead the Lights to a 76-63 win over the University of Regina at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse.
The win pushed the Lights' record to 4-0, and although their play wasn't perfect on Saturday, MSU-N head coach Shawn Huse was more than pleased with the victory.
“I am really proud of our guys gutting this game out,” Huse said. “We didn't play that well in the first half. It was kind of an ugly half of basketball.
“But we came back in the second half and only committed four turnovers,” he added. “And we turned them over 13 times, so I think our defense was the difference in the game. Our guys played really hard.”
The Lights actually trailed the Cougars 34-33 at halftime. Regina took advantage of its size over the Lights, going to 6-11 center Daniel Meltesen, who did most of his damage in the first half.
Ironically, it was the smaller Reid Stovall who shut Meltesen down in the second half as Huse went to a smaller lineup. Meltesen struggled to find his shot throughout the game's final 20 minutes, and Northern took advantage.
“I think our smaller lineup really took them out of what they wanted to do offensively,” Huse said. “Once we went to that lineup, we really started to take off.”
The Lights went on runs of 8-0 and 9-0 in the second half, spurred by the slashing and shooting of Brothers. Marcus Wilson also played well offensively, taking advantage of mismatches in the low block. But it was Brothers, who only hit one 3-pointer on the day, who did in the Cougars. The sophomore scored 12 of the Lights' last 16 points and helped his team pull away from the talented Cougars for good.
“What can you say about Cory?” Huse said. “He had another great game. He is just getting better and better each time he steps on the floor, and I really think you're going to see that continue.
“Marcus Wilson also had a good day for us,” Huse said. “A lot of guys really stepped up and contributed to this win. Some other guys had an off night, and others stepped in and picked them up. That is what we're going to need this season.”
Brothers went 12-17 from the floor, including the one trey. He also made six of seven free throws and had five rebounds. Wilson scored 12 points and yanked down 11 boards.
The Cougars got 16 points from Joel Hunter and 12 from Meltesen. Brydan Wright also chipped in with 10 points. Regina was hampered by 25 turnovers, while the Lights committed just 11.
“This is a really nice win for us,” Huse said. “Regina is a very solid team, so it was important that we came out and played well today, and it was nice that the win was a total team effort.”
With the win, the Lights improved to 4-0 on the season. Northern will now prepare to travel to Lethbridge, Alberta, for games against the University of Lethbridge on Oct. 28 and Brandon University on Oct. 29.
Lights 76, Cougars 63
Regina - Brydan Wright 3-7, 3-4 10, Adam Huffman 1-1 0-0 2, Joel Hunter 6-12 0-0 16, Daniel Meltesen 5-8 2-2 12, Zach Michell 1-6 2-2 5, Paul Schubach 1-2 0-0 2, drew Kuzminski 3-3 2-3 8, Sarain Soonias 0-2 2-2 2, Michael Enns 1-2 0-0 2, Greg McKoy 1-1 2-2 4. Totals: 22-45 13-15 63.
MSU-N - Marcus Wilson 5-7 2-3 12, Yanif Ducreay 2-6 0-0 4, Jordan Mathews 1-8 2-2 4, Cory Brothers 12-17 6-7 31, Brian Erickson 1-1 4-7 6, Leo Bullchild 1-2 0-0 3, Reid Stovall 2-2 1-2 5, Cody Gillespie 2-6 2-2 6, Ronnie Simpson 1-2 2-2 4. Totals: 27-51 19-25 76.