By Harvey Brock
Northern's men's team jumped out to a 14-point halftime lead and never looked back in a 99-88 win over the visiting Bulldogs of the University of Montana Western.
Before the game Northern Lights coach Brian Harrell knew it would be a high-scoring affair. "Western is a lot like us. They score lots of points but have a hard time stopping anybody."
The first 10 minutes of the game reflected Harrell's prediction. Neither team could stop the other. Western led 26-21 before Northern went on a 21-5 run to take a 46-32 halftime lead.
The Lights were led by the guard play of Jeff Graham and Jermaine Walton. Graham, who hit three first-half 3-pointers, led the Lights in scoring with 20 points.
Graham opened the second half with another 3-pointer as the Lights raced out to a 21-point lead with only five minutes gone. Western coach Mark Durham called timeout, but the damage was done.
Led by Valier native Neil Christiaen's 23 points, the Bulldogs closed the gap to eight points with five minutes to go. The inside play of Northern's Josh Hays and Uros Mirkovic was too much for the Bulldogs from that point on. The Lights had five players in double figures and shot more than 50 percent from the floor for the game.
"I thought our guys played unselfishly," Coach Harrell said. "We didn't run any set plays, just our motion offense. Jermaine Walton broke them down off the dribble and found Jeff Graham for some open threes.
"We got great play off our bench. We had nine guys who contributed. Charlie Ereaux played about as solid as a guy could play off the bench."
Walton thought team play was the difference in the game. "This was a big win for us. We played well together tonight. We are getting used to playing with each other and coming together as a team. We got some stops at the right times and we got the win."