George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
For the second straight season, the Montana State University-Northern Lights will get a stern test against an in-state opponent that's not in the Frontier Conference. And for yet another year, that test will be against perhaps the best college basketball team in the state as the Lights travel to Missoula to take on the University of Montana Grizzlies tonight at 7 inside the Adams Center. MSU-N (6-0) has been perfect so far this season, something they weren't when they lost to Montana 83-45 last November a game that Northern struggled to score and defend the bigger UM squad. However, the Lights do feel like they have a team that matches up just a little better with Montana in tonight's affair, which is UM's third game of the season. Northern, which is coming of an impressive road victory at Minot State on Saturday, has a little more size this season with posts Drew Pettersen, Clinton Shelton, Derek Trembley and Keegan Hoover. Those four will be relied on heavily to try and defend two-time all Big Sky performer Andrew Strait, as well as all-big Sky swingman Jordan Hasquet. The duo hurt MSU-N severely last season, combing for over 30 points and 15 rebounds in the Grizzlies' comfortable victory over the Lights. MSU-N should also find more favorable matchups on the perimeter, at least on the offensive end. Guards Delvaughn Tinned and Travis Noble have been lighting up the scoreboard for six games now, and Tinned is coming off his third 30-point performance of the season. He scored 31 points at Minot, including hitting five 3-pointers. Tinned leads the Lights in scoring at 25 points per game, while Noble pours in 16 points per game and is hitting on 44 percent of his attempted 3-point shots. Pettersen is the third MSU-N player averaging in double figures at 13 points per game. Northern will also rely heavily on Andrew Sellars tonight, mainly for his athletic ability which will come in handy on the defensive end of the floor. Meanwhile, the Grizzles are in somewhat of a rebuilding process at the guard position. They are getting nearly 15 points per game from senior Matt Martin, but sophomores Cam Rundles and Ryan Staudacher, both first-year starters, have begun slowly. This is UM's third game of the regular season, with its last outing coming on Sunday at perennial NCAA powerhouse Gonzaga. The Griz hung around in the first half, but the Bulldogs proved to be too much, winning going away, 77- 54. UM opened its 2007-2008 season, a year in which the Griz are picked to win the Big Sky, with a 75-39 thumping of Colorado State last Friday in Missoula. Tonight's nonconference affair between Montana and MSU-N will tip off at 7 in Missoula. This is the first of two straight road games against Big Sky Conference foes for MSU-N. The Lights visit Idaho State on Nov. 21.