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Lights go 2-1 at University of Lethbridge tournament

 


If there was ever such a thing as a good loss, the Montana State University-Northern men's basketball team had one on Thursday.

The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns avenged an earlier loss to Northern a week ago with an 85-76 win in the opening round of the University of Lethbridge National tournament.

While the loss was disappointing to head coach Shawn Huse, his team took it even harder. But instead of letting the loss linger, the Lights erased it by playing with more intensity and enthusiasm, picking up a 81-74 win over Concordia University on Friday night and a 94-88 win over Simon Fraser University on Saturday night.

"We were much more focused on the task at hand on Friday night," Huse said. "We played with a great deal of intensity and weren't going to be denied."

It wasn't that Northern wasn't intense against Lethbridge, but the combination of icy shooting and defensive breakdowns did them in against the Pronghorns.

Lethbridge grabbed an early lead in the first half and never looked back, never allowing the Lights to get closer than four or five points.

"They were pretty much in control the whole game," Huse said. "We lost the game in the first five minutes. We had some breakdowns defensively and they jumped out to a big lead."

Northern couldn't afford those breakdowns with the way it was shooting the basketball. The Lights shot just 45 percent from the field, including a rough 3-23 from three-point range.

"Our shots weren't falling," Huse said. "But we did shoot ourselves in the foot defensively with some mistakes. It's a bad combination."

Huse expected Lethbridge to come out strong after a somewhat controversial loss to Northern in Havre, when Lethbridge's head coach and point guard were ejected from the game in the first half.

"They definitely wanted another shot at us," Huse said. "They had some tough breaks in our gym and they wanted to get us back in their home gym."

Lethbridge got 20 points and four assists from point guard Ryan Reed, while Nick Baldwin and Simon Straith also scored 20 points each to lead the Pronghorns.

Northern was led by the Morinia brothers. Lamar scored 19 points and dished out three assists, while brother, Larry added 15 points. Trenton Harbaugh chipped in with 15 points and Berhane Williams added 11 off the bench.

But to Huse's delight, the mistakes his team made on Thursday were easily corrected on Friday. He could see it during their afternoon shootaround that his team was not about to make it two straight losses.

"It's a credit to our leadership to the way the team responded in such a positive manner," Huse said. "You could see it during Friday's shootaround how much the loss the night before bothered them."

The Lights played with the defensive intensity they lacked the night before from the opening tip.

"We definitely played better defensively and really got off a good start," Huse said. "We played with a sense of urgency. About five minutes into the game, I was really happy because I knew that win or lose, Thursday night's game affected them."

Despite the intensity, Northern still trailed 39-37 at halftime. However, some key steals in the second half allowed the Lights to pull away for the win.

"We forced them into 17 turnovers, and a lot of them came at critical points in the game," Huse said.

Northern got 20 points and seven rebounds from Dustin Sawejka and 17 points from Larry Morinia in the win. Harbaugh also had another strong game with 12 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

But Huse was even more impressed with his team following the game.

"As we were walking off the floor to the locker room, I heard our guys talking about how they needed to defend Simon Fraser the next night," Huse said. "We had just got done beating Concordia two minutes before and they were already thinking about Saturday."

It's a good thing his team was thinking about Saturday early, because the Simon Fraser University Clan is considered to be one of the top programs in the country.

"They are huge," Huse said "Their center is a legitimate 6-10 and the rest of their starters were all over 6-4."

One of those players was former Clemson University player Pasha Bains, who torched Northern for 33 points. But despite Bains' efforts, Northern came out victorious thanks some improved outside shooting and making Bains work for every one of those points. The Lights sank 10 of 28 three-pointers and 20 of 30 free throws.

"We knew playing Simon Fraser that we would have to play more outside-in offensively," Huse said. "We made some key three-pointers. Bains was the real deal, but we forced him into plenty of precarious positions, a lot of his points came from the free-throw line."

The Lights got 35 points, seven rebounds and six assists from the Morinia brothers, while Berhane Williams added 21 points and Dustin Sawejka had a solid game with 16 points and 13 rebounds.

"I can't say enough about the effort Trenton, Berhane and Dustin put forth this week," Huse said. "They had their work cut out for them this weekend, going against some tough big guys. They really responded well."

As for the weekend, Huse was beyond happy, even with the loss.

"I honestly left that tournament feeling as good about a team as I ever have," Huse said. "I was very proud of them. Everybody played those last two games with so much heart and intensity."

Northern will return to action this weekend when it hosts Dickinson State and Minot State for a pair of non-conference games.

MSU-NORTHERN LIGHTS (76)

Reid Stovall 2-3 2-4 6; Lamar Morinia 7-16 2-3 18; Landen Grant 0-3 0-0 0; Dustin Sawejka 3-9 0-0 6; Trenton Harbaugh 6-6 3-4 15; Larry Morinia 7-18 0-0 15; Zach McLean 0-2 -0 0; Leo Bullchild 1-2 0-0 2; Berhane Williams 5-8 1-1 11; Travis Moran 1-4 1-4 3. Totals: 32-71 9-16 76.

UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE (85)

Ryan Reed 4-11 10-12 20; Luke Harris 2-3 0-0 4; Nick Baldwin 9-13 2-6 20; Sarain Soonias 4-5 2-2 10; Simon Straith 5-9 6-6 20; Mat Bekkering 1-5 0-0 2; Leo West 1-4 3-4 5; Tim Whitehead 1-5 1-2 4. Totals: 27-56 24-32 85.

Halftime: UL 41, MSUN 31. Three point goals: MSUN 3-23 (Lamar Morinia 2-8, Grant 0-2, Larry Morinia 1-8; McLean 0-2, Moran 0-3), UL 7-17 (Reed 2-5, Straith 4-7, Bekkering 0-2, West 0-1, Whitehead 1-2). Rebounds: MSUN 28 (Sawejka 4); UL 38 (Soonias 9) Assists: MSUN 14 (Three tied with 3); UL 14 (Reed 4). Total fouls: MSUN 23, UL 13. Fouled out - Bullchild; Technicals - none.

MSU-NORTHERN LIGHTS (81)

Larry Morinia 4-13 6-7 17; Lamar Morinia 2-5 3-4 7; Berhane Williams 3-6 0-0 6; Travis Moran 1-3 2-2 4; Trenton Harbaugh 5-8 2-4 12; Zach McLean 2-4 3-4 8; Leo Bullchild 0-4 0-0 0; Walter Runsabove 0-0 0-0 0; Reid Stovall 3-4 1-6 7; Landen Grant 0-3 0-0 0; Dustin Sawejka 8-16 4-4 20. Totals: 28-66 21-31 81.

CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY (74)

Rastko Popovic 3-11 0-0 9; Daniel Lacasses 3-7 0-0 6; Philippe Langlois 5-12 3-6 15; Chris Blackwood 4-10 0-0 10; Patrick Perrotte 7-12 7-9 21; David Carter 2-4 0-1 5; Russell Makofsky 0-0 0-0 0; Andrew Kanho 0-0 0-0 0; Donal Corkum 2-5 4-4 8. Totals: 26-61 14-20 74.

Halftime: CON 39, MSUN 37. Three point goals: MSUN 4-21 (Larry Morinia 3-8, Lamar Morinia 0-2, Williams 0-1, Moran 0-1, McLean 1-2, Bullchild 0-3, Stovall 0-1, Grant 0-3), CON 8-20 (Popovic 3-9, Langlois 2-5, Blackwood 2-5, Carter 1-1). Rebounds: MSUN 44 (Harbaugh 15); CON 30 (Perrotte 11) Assists: MSUN 16 (Bullchild 5); CON 16 (Langlois 6). Total fouls: MSUN 18, CON 23. Fouled out - Perrotte, Williams; Technicals - none.

MSU-NORTHERN (94)

Larry Morinia 7-14 4-6 22; Lamar Morinia 5-15 2-3 13; Berhane Williams 7-14 5-6 21, Dustin Sawejka 5-13 6-9 16; Trenton Harbaugh 1-2 1-4 3; Zach McLean 1-3 2-2 5; Leo Bullchild 1-2 0-0 2; Reid Stovall 4-5 0-0 9; Landen Grant 1-3 0-0 3; Travis Moran 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 32-73 20-30 94.

SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY (88)

Brent Charleton 7-14 1-1 16; Pasha Bains 9-23 10-13 33; Sean Stewart 4-13 4-8 12; Chad Clifford 7-13 4-4 18; Mike Klizs 0-1 0-0 0; Brent McLarren 0-1 0-0 0; John Boateng 0-0 0-0 0; Joseph Schow 1-2 0-0 2; Ross Naka 0-0 0-0 0, Eric Albrecht 0-1 1-2 1. Totals: 31-74 20-30 88.

Halftime: MSUN 40, SFU 39. Three point goals: MSUN 10-28 (Larry Morinia 4-10, Lamar Morinia 1-8, Williams 2-3, McLean 1-3, Stovall 1-1, Grant 1-2), SFU 6-16 (Charleton 1-4, Bains 5-8, Stewart 0-2, Clifford 0-2). Rebounds: MSUN 38 (Sawejka 13); SFU 45 (Stewart 9) Assists: MSUN 15 (Larry Morinia 3, Lamar Morinia); SFU 13 (Bains 6). Total fouls: MSUN 21, SFU 26. Fouled out -

 

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