George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
The Montana State University- Northern men’s basketball team was more than happy to be home on Monday night. The Lights had played eight of their first 10 games away from Havre so far this season, but they opened a two-game home stand with a resounding 70-50 win over the University of Alberta Monday night at the MSUNorthern Fieldhouse. Northern used big runs early in the first half, late in the first half and early in the second half to race past a strong Alberta team, a team which plays at the highest level of college basketball in Canada. “I’m actually really pleased with our guys tonight,” Northern head coach Shawn Huse said. “It was an awkward game for us. They (Bears) don’t play a tradition brand of basketball, especially on defense, and they came in here having played UGF to three points last night, and as another team we were at a height disadvantage against. So for all of that, plus, we had a really cold night shooting the basketball, for us to still win by 20 points, I’m really proud of our guys for that.” Indeed. The Lights were cold from the outside early on, and they made just one 3-pointer the entire game. But as tall as the Golden Bears were, Northern was able to get work done in the paint. Walynn Burgess and Brian Santiago combined for 30 points and 14 rebounds, leading the Lights in both halves. Northern also turned the Bears over 19 times, including seven in the first eight minutes of the game. Junior point guard Eric Tisby had three of those steals as the Lights converted in transition to build a 23-9 lead midway through the first stanza. Northern was fired up off an Andrew Sellars ally-oop dunk, and conversely, the Bears went seven minutes without a field goal during the same stretch. But Alberta used the 3-point-line to briefly get back into the first half. The Bears made two quick threes and were back within five points at 25-20 with four minutes to play. But Santiago made a pair of quick buckets, Justin Dennis hit a shot from the outside, and the Lights closed the half on a 10-0 run to lead by 15 points. Northern started the second half the same way, going inside time and time again, and at one point, the Light lead ballooned to 28 points, and they cruised home for their third straight nonconference win, improving to 7-4 on the young season. “Credit Alberta,” Huse said. “They are young, but talented and they played us tough. Their defensive switching really threw us off shooting the basketball. But Brian Santiago had a great game for us inside, and as a team, we did a nice job of attacking the paint. Even though they were bigger than us, we really went after them on the inside, and that was a key difference in the game. “This may not have been the prettiest game,” Huse added. “But for as poorly as we shot the ball from the outside, and as well as they (Bears) played on defense, to win by 20 points was good for our team. I was pleased with the effort by our guys and I was pleased that we were able to build a lead and stay out in front of them.” Burgess led the way with 17 points and Santiago came off the bench to score 13. Dennis added 13 points and Sellars chipped in with nine. Alberta got 13 points from Jordan Baker in the loss. Tonight, the Lights remain at home for a game against Concordia of Alberta. Tip off for tonight’s game at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse is set for 7.