Lights humble Rebels at home, defeat Adrian College in Fort Lauderdale
George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org If the Dixie State Rebels were running on empty after three straight road games, then the Montana State University- Northern Lights had a full tank of gas and their foot pressed firmly on the accelerator. MSU-N rode a torrid shooting night from junior transfer Delvaughn Tinned and didn’t require a circus-like barrage of Dixie State technical fouls in the second half to blow out the NCAA Division II Rebels, 77-55 Friday night at the MSUNorthern Fieldhouse in Havre. Tinned scored a season-high 30 points and connected on six 3-pointers as the Lights broke open a close game late in the first half, knocking off a Dixie State team that had defeated Westminster College, UM-Western and Carroll College in its last three games. “Honestly, our defense was the key tonight,” Tinned said. “We prepared all week defensively for this team and our execution offensively came from how well we played defense as a team.” Indeed, MSU-N’s defense did a number on a Dixie State team that had just beaten Carroll College 65-60 on Thursday night. The Lights and Rebels stayed close to each other through a good portion of the first half with neither team making up much ground offensively. That is, until Tinned got going. In less than two minutes, Tinned knocked down three treys, which gave the Lights a 26-17 lead with 4:06 left in the first half. Then, senior guard Ronnie Simpson closed out the half by scoring MSU-N’s last seven points, giving the Lights a comfortable 40-26 halftime lead. “Delvaughn is going to have nights like that for us. He is just a tremendous shooter,” MSU-N head coach Shawn Huse said. “He really got hot at the end of the half, and getting a lead like that was good for us. “But what I really liked about this win is that we closed the game out the way we should,” Huse added. “We had a lead and we were really smart with it in the second half. Our kids played hard for 40 minutes tonight, and we were able to get a really good win against a very good team.” The only drama in the second half was the continued shooting of Tinned and the mental collapse of the Rebels. Dixie State was whistled for four technical fouls, and midway through the half, Rebels’ head coach Jon Judkins was ejected because of back-to-back technicals. Still, the parade of technical foul shots by MSU-N didn’t have any effect on the outcome of the game as the Lights were comfortably out in front of the Rebels at that point. “We thought that they might make a few runs in the second half,” Huse said. “But we played really solid defense throughout and we didn’t really let them get anything going. “Still, you have to credit that team,” he added. “There was no doubt they were a little tired after being on the road so much, and they aren’t really deep. They have a lot of guys that play heavy minutes and they still played hard until the end.” Tinned finished the game 9-of-14 from the field, including a blistering 6-of-10 from beyond the arc. He also had three assists and three steals on the night. “I think I was able to get hot because we were patient on offense all night,” he said. “We didn’t settle for bad shots, and as a team, we just moved the ball around. And our defense really got our offense going tonight.” Simpson was also outstanding for the Lights. He scored 15 points off the bench and grabbed four rebounds. Brian Erickson chipped in with nine points and Drew Pettersen added eight points and eight boards. As a team, the Lights played a very clean game. Northern shot 52 percent from the field, made 11 threes, outrebounded the Rebels 34-24 and committed just nine turnovers. “I thought we did a lot of things well tonight,” Huse said. “Offensively, we kind of did it from the outside in, and you don’t always want to do that, but it worked for us tonight. And we executed pretty well. “I also thought rebounding was a big key,” he added. “We did a really good job on the boards. This was a really nice win for this team.” The Rebels managed just one player in double figures. Point guard Dan Stock scored 10 points, while leading scorers Johnny Little and Ryan Sanchez were held to seven and six points, respectively. “I think our schedule really prepared us for tonight,” Huse said. “We have played some games where we were out of our element somewhat offensively and defensively. So there is no doubt that those games we played on the road last month are really starting to pay off now.” After their win on Friday night, the Lights boarded a plane headed for Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where they played Adrian College on Sunday afternoon. Northern defeated the NCAA Division III Bulldogs of Adrian, Mich., 71-63 to improve to 9-4 on the season. Tinned led three Lights in double figures with 21 points. Pettersen scored 14 points and Simpson chipped in with 12 points. “We didn’t play as well as we did Friday night,” Huse said Sunday afternoon from Florida. “But we did enough to get the win. With the travel, I think we’re a little tired right now. But I am proud of our guys. This was a good team we played down here, and we came in and got the job done. It was another really nice win for our team.” The Lights won’t have much time to rest as they are back in action today in Florida. MSU-N will take on the NAIA’s third-ranked team in Azusa Pacific before returning to Havre on Tuesday. The Lights have one more home game before Frontier Conference play starts in January. MSU-N will face the University of Saskatchewan on Dec. 30 at the MSUNorthern Fieldhouse.