GREAT FALLS - In the 10th-ranked MSU-Northern men's basketball team's only Frontier Conference loss this season, missed free throws at the end of the game were the culprit. On Saturday night at the McLaughlin Center in Great Falls, the Lights let another one get away from them at foul line. Leading by two points with :11 left in the game against the University of Great Falls, the Lights were stunned when UGF's Leon Sutton banked in a 3-point prayer to lift the Argos to a 69-68 upset win.
The shot stunned what was a pro-Northern crowd of more than 200 in Great Falls, and it kept the Lights from gaining big ground in the Frontier Standings. It was also the first time Northern has lost to UGF in over four years.
MSU_N got the point where the Sutton shot turned out the game-winner because the Lights twice missed the front end of one-and-one free-throw chances in the closing minute. In what was a great battle, the Lights seemed to have control after they ran off an 11-2 run, with three straight three's coming from David Maddock, LaVon Myers and Devin Jackson. But up 65-62with :31 left, the game somehow managed to slip through the Lights' fingertips. Sutton's heroic three left Northern with :1.5 left, and Joe Simpson got a good look at a game-winning shot of his own, but it rimmed out and the Lights left Great Falls with a heartbreaking loss. Northern beat the Argos by one point back on Jan. 7 in Havre.
The two teams played a classic Saturday night, with the lead changing hands 17 times in a furious second half. MSU-N led 34-32 in the biggest lead either team had was seven points, when the Argos led 9-2 at the start of the game, and the Lights in front 65-58 with 4:09 to play.
Shaun Tatarka poured in 18 points and hit four three's while Jackson also paced the Lights with 17 points and five trey's. Simpson added nine points and nine boards, while Marcel Towns earned a game-high 24 points for UGF, which improved to 4-4 in league play.
The loss dropped the Lights to 6-2 in the Frontier and 20-4 overall. Northern is still in first in the league standings because UM-Western was upset Saturday night at Lewis-Clark State. The Lights vist Western on Friday night and Montana Tech next Saturday.
For full story, see Monday's Havre Daily News.