Sweet revenge, and now the No. 22 Montana State University-Northern men's basketball team has a chance to win the Frontier Conference championship. On Saturday night at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse, in front of a raucous crowd, the Lights avenged last season's semifinal loss at UM-Western by beating the Bulldogs 72-60. The win pushed the Lights into Tuesday night's championship game where they'll face 19th-ranked Carroll College in Helena.
Northern beat the Bulldogs with trademark defense and timely plays from unsung forwards Joe Simpson, Ben Mitchell and Sean Kelly. Western took away Northern's 3-point shooting in the first half and the Lights led just 26-25 at the break. The Bulldogs led by as many as five points in the second, but Northern went on a 16-6 run in the final seven minutes to pull away from the monumental win. Simpson led four Lights in double figures with 19 points. Shaun Tatarka chipped in with 12 as the Lights improved to 23-8 on the season.
Now Northern will face the Saints (23-7) on Tuesday night for the league's automatic berth in the NAIA national tournament. MSU-N last played in the Frontier championship game in 2008, where it lost to LC State. The Lights and Saints tip off at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in Helena.
For full coverage, see Monday's Havre Daily News.