George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
For the second time in as many weeks, the Montana State University- Northern men’s basketball team lost an exhibition game to an NCAA Division I opponent. But on Wednesday night i n Pocatello, Idaho, the unbeaten Lights didn’t go away quietly, giving the the Idaho State Bengals all they could handle in a 76-69 loss that won’t count against their schedule. “It’s one of those things, we felt like we were right in it at halftime, a lot like we were against the Grizzlies,” MSU-N head coach Shawn Huse said. “And like in that game, I think it started to slip away from us in the second half. “But the thing I’m most proud of our kids for us is that even though they knew this game wasn’t going to hurt us in the long run,” he added. “Here they were battling back late in the game and finding ways to really make a game of it down the stretch. That’s just the kind of team we have. They never quit.” Having lost to the University of Montana in blowout fashion back on Nov. 14, the Lights weren’t about to do the same against ISU. Northern trailed by just four points at halftime, 41-37. But it didn’t take long for the Bengals to build a 15-point lead in the second half, and it looked as though the Lights were in for a long final 10 minutes. But as Huse pointed out, his team refused to go away, and the Lights cut the lead all the way down to two points late in the contest. And while they came up short in the end, Northern got what it needed out of the trip to Pocatello. “I think if anything, we should gain a lot of conf idence from thi s experience,” Huse said. “We played to Division I teams and we faced a lot of things we can’t simulate in practice. We faced pressure eon the road and two teams that are more athletic and more physical then we are. But as well as we played against Idaho State, I think we gained a lot of confidence in knowing that we can go out and play with anybody.” As expected, the Lights shot the ball particularly well from the 3-point line. Junior guard Travis Noble, an Idaho native, poured in a game-high 18 points, including a 4-for-6 performance from beyond the arc. Delvaughn Tinned also hit a pair of three’s on his way to 14 points, and Andrew Sellars knocked down three trey’s in scoring 11 points. MSU-N shot 46 percent from the field and 52 percent from three in the loss. Fouls hurt the Lights in the long run as ISU made 26 trips to the freethrow line compared to just six by the Lights. The Bengals (2-3) were paced by Lucas Stajn’s 15 points and eight rebounds, while Logan Kinghorn had 13 points and leading scorer Matt Stucki added 12 points in the win. Neither Wednesday night’s loss to ISU or the Nov. 14 loss to UM count against the Lights’ 6-0 record. Now, Northern will get back into the swing of NAIA action when it travels to Dickinson, N.D. for a tournament hosted by Dickinson State University. The Lights play DSU on Saturday night and fellow Frontier Conference member UM-Western on Sunday. “We have two tough games out there,” Huse said. “Dickinson is a good team and we’ve had some battles with them the last couple of years. And it’s always interesting playing a team from our league this early in the season. This will be a good test for our team coming off the game against Idaho State.” The Lights haven’t played at home since Nov. 3, and they will next play at home on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 when they host the AmericInn Classic.