Havre Daily News sports editor
The Montana State University-Northern Lights basketball team was riding high when it left Havre for Salt Lake City on Wednesday afternoon.
But a loss to Westminster College on Thursday night took some air out of the Lights, and on Saturday night in Lewiston, Idaho, the Lewis-Clark State Warriors popped the Lights' balloon completely. The Warriors thumped the No. 24 Lights, 74-41, completing a difficult road trip for MSU-N and leaving the Lights at 3-3 in Frontier Conference play.
“It was just one of those nights when we couldn't get anything going, no matter what we tried to do,” MSU-N head coach Shawn Huse said. “I thought that we executed our game plan well and we got good shots, but they just didn't fall.
“Defensively we played as well as we could,” Huse added. “But it's like a football game: Your offense can only go three-and-out so many times before you wear your defense out, and that is what happened to us against LC State.”
The Lights' field goal statistics tell the whole story. Northern shot a dismal 12-of-47 from the floor and made just two 3-pointers. No matter how well the Lights played defensively, making 12 field goals in 40 minutes in a hostile environment isn't going to get it done.
“Normally when one or two of our guys have an off shooting night, we have had other guys step in and pick up the scoring,” Huse said. “But against LC State, we just couldn't get anything or anybody going.”
The Lights hung around for the first 12 minutes of the game, but the Warriors broke the contest open late in the first half and led 27-15 at intermission.
Northern fought valiantly for most of the second half, despite the poor shooting, but the Warriors picked up their shooting in the second half en route to the easy victory.
“Give credit to LC State,” Huse said. “They are even more talented than they were last year. They are a very good team and they put us away when they had the chance.”
The Warriors (16-4, 4-2) had four players score in double figures, led by leading scorer Chris Pitts, who poured in 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds. The Warriors also got 11 points apiece from Eric Durett and Jared Tikker. Keith Scarbrough chipped in with 10 points.
Conversely, only senior Jordan Matthews reached double-digits for the Lights. Matthews scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds. Sophomore Cody Gillespie came off the bench to score seven points.
The loss was the third in four conference games for the Lights (14-8). Northern will take to the road again on Saturday night when they travel to Great Falls to take on the University of Great Falls Argos.
“This was a tough road trip for us,” Huse said. “But we can't dwell on it. We have to get back to work and prepare to go down to Great Falls and play well.”
Warriors 74, Lights 41
MSU-N - Marcus Wilson 1-4 0-0 2, Yanif Ducreay 2-4 0-1 4, Jordan Matthews 3-10 6-7 12, Cory Brothers 1-9 0-0 2, Nick Hittner 1-4 0-0 3, Reid Stovall 2-6 0-0 4, Cody Gillespie 1-2 4-4 7, Pathe Yatera 0-0 3-4 3. Totals: 12-47 15-18 41.
LCS - Chris Pitts 4-5 7-8 15, Eric Durett 5-9 0-0 11, Keith Scarbrough 4-7 1-1 10, Jonathan Burnett 3-9 0-0 7, Spencer Bishop 2-3 1-2 6, Charles Brooks 2-7 0-3 4, Caleb Orr 1-1 0-0 3, Steven Thompson 1-3 0-0 2, Stephen Ward 2-4 0-0 5, Jared Tikker 5-6 1-1 11. Totals: 29-54 10-15 74.
3-point goals - MSU-N 2-14 (Hittner 1, Gillespie 1), LCS 6-15 (Durett 1, Scarbrough 1, Burnett 1, Bishop 1, Orr 1, Ward 1); Rebounds - MSU-N 27 (Stovall 6), LCS 37 (Pitts 7); Total fouls - MSU-N 19, LCS 18; Fouled out - None.