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Lights open season with pair of wins

 


The mistakes were easy for Montana State University-Northern men's basketball coach Shawn Huse to spot. In the first games of the season, there usually are plenty of them to choose from.

But the overall effort, intensity and hustle that Huse's players showed on the weekend made the mistakes his players committed a little easier to swallow.

The Lights overcame some early mistakes, picking up a pair of nonconference wins, defeating the University of Lethbridge 103-84 on Saturday night and Red Deer College 99-56 on Sunday afternoon to open their season.

"Overall, it was a pretty good weekend," Huse said. "We want to keep improving every time we step on the floor and I thought we improved from Saturday to Sunday."

On Saturday, Northern overcame foul trouble from its post players and a lackluster defensive performance to pick up the win against a scrappy Lethbridge squad.

Lethbridge even helped the Lights out a little in the first half. The Pronghorns held a 20-19 lead and had just gotten Northern center Trenton Harbaugh into early foul trouble. The Pronghorns were primed to go on a run, but a carrying call on point guard Ryan Reed turned into a five-minute fiasco.

Reed was slapped with a technical foul for arguing the call. Lethbridge head coach Mike Connolly protested Reed's technical foul and drew two technical fouls and was ejected. Reed also drew another technical foul following Connolly's ejection and was also thrown out of the game.

The four technical fouls gave Northern eight free throws, which Zach McLean sank seven of, to put the Lights up 26-20. The debacle inspired the Lights offense as it scorched the nets, grabbing a 63-52 halftime lead as Northern shot a blistering 83 percent from the field.

While the offense was clicking, the defense left a little bit to be desired.

"We committed some silly fouls that put us in some precarious positions," Huse said. "We need to play a little smarter defensively. We really hurt ourselves by getting into foul situations. Lethbridge was in the double bonus with 10 minutes left in the first half. That is setting yourself up for trouble."

Indeed, Lethbridge stayed close throughout the contest, sinking 20 of 22 free throws in the first half.

The Lights pulled away in the second half as consecutive three-pointers from Landen Grant, Leo Bullchild and Lamar Morinia and a layup from Harbaugh pushed the lead to 80-67.

Dustin Sawejka led a group of five Northern players in double figures with 21 points on 6 of 7 shooting from the field. The Morinia brothers, Larry and Lamar, scored 18 and 17 points, respectively, while Reid Stovall and Berhane Williams added 11 and 10 points.

On Sunday, Northern played much better defensively and pretty much scored at will in an easy win over Red Deer College.

The Lights once again used the three-pointer to pull away. Three consecutive three-pointers - two from Lamar Morinia and one from Grant - gave Northern a 23-10 lead. The Lights never looked back, shooting 68 percent from the field for the game.

Northern had five players in double figures, with Harbaugh scoring a game-high 19 points. Larry Morinia had 17 points while Sawejka added 13 points. Lamar Morinia and Williams had 12 points each for Northern.

"It's good to see that many players in double figures," Huse said. "It means we're playing unselfishly."

While the margin of score was impressive, the performance was far from it to Huse.

"We played better defensively," Huse said. "But I think our shot selection was a little shaky. Our team was also taking some risks. Those can develop into bad habits and can hurt you later on the season."

Still, Huse was the first to recognize that it is early in the season and mistakes are going to happen.

"We played very hard and that's the most important thing," Huse said. "The effort and intensity were there even when the execution wasn't."

Northern will return to action Saturday when it hosts the Montana All-Stars at the MSU-Northern gymnasium.

UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE (84)

Ryan Reed 1-1 0-0 2, Matthew Bekkering 5-6 4-4 16, Joel Price 1-2 1-2 3, Joel Price 2-3 2-4 6, Luke Harris 3-4 1-2 9, Nick Baldwin 7-7 2-3 16, Denver Corbiere 1-2 2-3 4, Saarain Soonias 3-5 1-3 7, Simon Straith 5-9 4-4 15, Tim Whitehead 2-2 2-2 6. Totals: 30-41 19-27 84.

MSU-NORTHERN (103)

Larry Morinia 5-7 6-10 18, Zach McLean 0-1 7-8 7, Leo Bullchild 1-3 0-0 3, Walter Runsabove 2-2 0-0 4, Reid Stovall 4-7 2-2 11, Lamar Morinia 7-8 2-2 17, Landen Grant 2-2 0-0 6, Berhane Williams 2-6 6-6 10, Travis Moran 1-1 0-0 2, Dustin Sawejka 6-7 9-10 21, Trenton Harbaugh 2-2 0-204. Totals: 32-46 32-39 103.

Halftime: MSUN 63, UL 52 . Three point goals: UL 5-6 (Bekkering 2-2, Harris 2-2, Straith 1-2), MSUN 7-9 (Larry Morinia 2-3, McLean 0-1, Bullchild 1-1, Stovall 1-1, Lamar Morinia 1-1, Grant 2-2). Rebounds: UL 12 (Baldwin 3, Soonias 3, Straith 3); MSUN 19 (Williams 6) Assists: UL 4 (Straith 2); MSUN 11 (three tied with 2). Total fouls: UL 24, MSUN 29. Fouled out - none; Technical fouls - Reed 2, Lethbridge coach 2.

RED DEER COLLEGE (56)

Josh Bibbs 1-4 0-0 2, Franjo Crnkovic 1-3 0-1 2, Jordan Brown 3-4 0-0 6, Jeremy Smith 4-4 1-1 11, Joel Bancroft 1-3 1-5 3, Paul Rabel 3-6 1-2 7, Brock McMillan 1-1 0-0 2, Lee Sprunger 1-2 3-4 6, Kalem Edlund 1-2 0-0 3, Mark Salkeld 2-6 0-2 4, Jesse Osterman 3-3 4-7 10. Totals: 21-38 10-22 56.

MSU-NORTHERN (99)

Larry Morinia 5-8 5-7 17, Reid Stovall 1-2 0-0 3, Lamar Morinia 5-7 0-0 12, Dustin Sawejka 6-9 1-1 13, Trenton Harbaugh 6-7 7-11 19, Zach McLean 1-4 0-1 2, Leo Bullchild 1-1 1-1 3, Walter Runsabove 2-2 0-0 6, Landen Grant 2-2 0-0 6, Berhane Williams 3-5 6-6 12, Travis Moran 2-3 2-3 6. Totals: 34-50 22-30 99.

Halftime: Three point goals: RDC 4-5 (Smith 2-2, Sprunger 1-1, Edlund 1-2), MSUN 9-14 (Larry Morinia 2-5, Stovall 1-2, Lamar Morinia 2-2, McLean 0-1, Runsabove 2-2, Grant 2-2). Rebounds: RDC 16 (Osterman 4, Salked 4); MSUN 23 (Moran 5, Harbaugh 4) Assists: RDC 9 (Smith 2, Bancroft 2); MSUN 11 (Stovall 2, Lamar Morinia 2). Total fouls: RDC 28, MSUN 26. Fouled out - Crnkovic, Rabel, Salked; Technicals - none.

 

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