By Ryan Divish
Montana State University-Northern men's basketball coach Shawn Huse wasn't deeply philosophical about his team's game on Saturday night.
"I guess whenever you win it always feels better than when you lose," Huse said.
If that's the case Huse's team had plenty to feel good about after defeating the Northwest All-Stars 112-90 in an exhibition game Saturday night at the MSU-Northern gymnasium.
Northern outhustled, outscrapped and outshot the All-Stars to take an early first half lead, 50-35. The Lights poured it on in the second half shooting a blazing 61 percent including a four of six shooting from three-point range.
Exhibition games are a tricky situation. In one sense, they provide a different game than a scrimmage. However, the games are only as competitive as the competition and the shape they're in.
The All-Stars played gamely in the first half, but the stifling Lights defensive pressure wilted them in the second half. The All-Stars defense lagged and their offense consisted of running players out hoping to get easy opportunities on fast breaks.
"Those games are tough to watch for fans," Huse said. "I credit our guys for not falling into that style of play."
Indeed, although there were plenty of open long jumpshots, Northern continued to attack the basket with ferocity. Zach McLean, Larry Morinia and Travis Moran continually penetrated the All-Star defense. That penetration gave Northern great looks from three point-range on kick out passes.
"That will definitely be part of our offense," Huse said of the open looks from three. "We stress attacking the basket and making the defense react and there will be some open shots. Hopefully, when we do kick it out, we knock down the open threes."
As the lead widened, Huse was pleased to see that his team didn't get into a pattern of playing one on one basketball.
"Despite the type of game it was, the guys played hard, played together and played unselfishly."
Northern had five players score in double figures led by Larry Morinia's 24 points including four three-pointers and seven rebounds. Charlie Ereaux had another solid night pouring in 19 points, grabbing six rebounds and picking up four steals. Reid Stovall had a nice game off the bench scoring 14 points while Moran and Kent Douglas added 13 and 12 points respectively.
Marlon Bailey led the All-Stars with a game high 27 points while teammate Dion Brown added 20 points and eight rebounds.
Huse said there is still plenty for his team to work on. He wasn't exactly pleased with his team's transition defense although he said it looked worse than it really was with the All-Stars releasing players on every Northern shot.
"We need to keep working on the things we want to do best," Huse said. "And that's being aggressive on both ends of the court and being unselfish."
While the game against the All-Stars was a good win, Huse knows the competition will be a little stiffer when they host Dickinson State and Minot State this weekend.
"This weekend we're going to face two good teams," Huse said. "And we have to be prepared to play at a higher level."
Northern will host Dickinson State on Friday and Minot State on Saturday at the MSU-Northern gymnasium.