Havre Daily News Sports Editor
The Montana State University-Northern men's basketball team is off to a hot start in 2005. The Lights continued their early season tour of Canada last week with a win over the University of Lethbridge on Thursday night.
The Lights easily defeated a very solid Pronghorn team, 83-59, in Lethbridge to run their record to a perfect 5-0 on the season.
MSU-N got off to a hot start offensively, making seven 3-pointers in the first half, and shooting 43 percent from the field. Northern also forced 11 of the Longhorns' 17 turnovers in the first half en route to a 20-point lead at intermission. The Lights led at halftime 45-25.
“We got off to a really good start,” MSU-N head coach Shawn Huse said. “It was one of those games where everything really seemed to click for us offensively. All of our guys did a nice job getting open shots and we were making them.”
The second half saw the Lights' defense continue to hound Lethbridge, forcing them into six more turnovers. Northern continued its offensive onslaught as well, outscoring the Pronghorns 38-34 in the final 20 minutes on the way to the easy nonconference victory.
“We came out and really played hard, aggressive defense,” Huse said. “I think that was a big key for us because Lethbridge is a very solid offensive team.
“But our guys have been playing some very good defense all season,” he added. “And they really got after it against Lethbridge.”
The Lights held the usually potent Pronghorn offense to a 48 percent shooting night from the field. The first half did the Pronghorns in as they shot just 28 percent. The Lights shot 52 percent from the field and connected on eight 3-pointers in the win.
After an off day shooting the ball last week against the University of Regina, senior Jordan Mathews got back on track in Lethbridge. He scored a game-high 25 points, including three 3-pointers. For the game, Mathews connected on 11-of-19 field goal attempts and also grabbed four rebounds. Sophomore Cory Brothers continued to play well, chipping in with 12 points and five boards. Reserve swingman Ronnie Simpson was the third Light to reach double figures with 11 points. Simpson also pulled down nine rebounds. Marcus Wilson paced the Lights in the rebounding column with a game-high 12 boards.
“It was another total team effort,” Huse said. “We had a lot of guys step up and do a lot of good things. It was just a really nice win for us.”
The Lights also defeated Branden University during the recent trip to Canada. Northern downed Branden 90-65 in what turned out to be an exhibition game for the Lights.
Northern will return to the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse on Friday night when it hosts Minot State at 7 p.m. The Lights will also host Valley City State on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Lights 83, Pronghorns 59
MSU-N - Jordan Mathews 25, Nick Hittner 6, Leo Bullchild 4, Cory Brothers 12, Reid Stovall 4, Brian Erickson 2, Marcus Wilson 8, Cody Gillespie 2, Ronnie Simpson 11, Adrian Nelson 2, Yanif Ducreay 7. Totals: 32-61 12-20 83.
Lethbridge - No stats available
3-point goals - MSU-N 7-16 (Mathews 3, Hittner 2, Bullchild 1, Simpson 1); Total fouls - MSU-N 23, Lethbridge 20; Fouled out - none.