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Lights rally to pick up split of conference games


In the Frontier Conference, the unwritten rule is that you hope to split your road games and win all the home games.

The Montana State University-Northern men's basketball team picked up a split in its first conference road trip of the season.

Despite getting that split, Lights head coach Shawn Huse wasn't exactly pleased with the way the weekend started out.

Northern opened with a disappointing 96-84 loss to the University of Montana-Western Friday night in Dillon.

The Lights did the one thing you can't do on the road - come out sluggish.

Western jumped out early on Northern, grabbing a 44-36 lead in the first half behind some hot shooting, particularly from transfer Jason Buell.

Buell, who transferred to Western from Montana Tech, scored 18 first-half points en route to a game-high 29, including five three-pointers. But Buell wasn't the only player shooting well. As a team, Western shot 61 percent from the field in the first half.

"Any little opening we gave them, they took advantage of it," Huse said. "Western has really changed their style of play from the beginning of the season. They make you play defense for the whole possession. They wait and wait until you make the slightest mistake and they make you pay. I'm surprised it was only 60 percent. It felt more like they were shooting 90 to 95 percent from the field."

Any hopes of Western cooling down in the second half faded early as the eight-point halftime lead ballooned to 20 points in the first eight minutes of the second half.

Huse employed full-court pressure late in the game in an effort to get something going. Western struggled initially against the press, but the Lights couldn't quite crawl out of the 20-point hole they had dug themselves into.

"Against Western we didn't do anything we needed to do to win," Huse said. "We got outrebounded (41-25), we let Buell go off early, we didn't accomplish any of our goals."

Besides Buell, Western got 19 points and eight rebounds from Neil Christiaens, 12 points from Brandon Day, and 10 points each from Josh Keller, Jeff Feenstra and Kevin Flatow.

Larry Morinia led Northern with 25 points, while Lamar Morinia added 15 and Trenton Harbaugh chipped in with 10.

"Western played a very good game, but we didn't play very well," Huse said. "I don't know if it was mental or physical, but our players definitely felt that they came out very flat. They were pretty upset with themselves. Our captains said they could see it in the way we warmed up."

If anything, Friday night's failure served as the proverbial wake-up call for the Lights on Saturday night.

Northern bounced back from the loss and the flat performance with an 84-76 win over Montana Tech in Butte.

The Lights rolled to a 43-37 halftime lead, a start that was a far cry from the night before.

"We came out with much more focus, a higher energy level and an intensity level that showed they really took the loss to heart," Huse said.

While the lead was far from insurmountable, Northern maintained control for much of the game. Larry Morinia and Berhane Williams keyed the effort in the final 10 minutes.

Morinia scored half of his game-high 22 points in that span and Williams came off the bench to score 16 points.

"Larry shot the ball much better and took some better shots," Huse said. "Berhane had a nice game. He hit some key shots when we needed them. He brings a certain level of toughness to the floor that we need."

Even with the burst from Morinia and Williams, Tech wouldn't go away quietly. The Diggers made a late effort to get ahead with baskets from Kellen Ori and Shane Sutton. However, Northern iced the game at the free- throw line, making seven of eight down the stretch.

"They are a scrappy team and they're good at home," Huse said. "They made some three-pointers to get back into it. But I though we were in control for most of the time. It just took us until the last two minutes to get completely comfortable that we were going to win."

Dustin Sawejka added 11 points and eight rebounds for Northern. Tech was led by David Scott's 20 points and nine rebounds, while Pat Weber added 17 and Sutton chipped in with 13.

"It's good to see our guys respond to a loss like that," Huse said. "It shows that they understand the importance of conference play and coming out ready to play."

Northern will return home for a pair of games this weekend against Rocky Mountain College and Carroll College.


Reid Stovall 4-5 0-0 9; Landen Grant 0-4 0-0 0; Trenton Harbaugh 3-7 4-8 10; Larry Morinia 9-19 6-6 25; Lamar Morinia 6-14 1-1 15; Zach McLean 1-1 1-2 4; Leo Bullchild 1-3 0-0 3; Berhane Williams 2-4 0-1 4; Travis Moran 2-2 2-3 7; Steve Ahrens 0-3 0-0 0; Dustin Sawejka 3-7 1-2 7. Totals: 31-69 15-23 69.


Brandon Day 3-4 5-7 12; Kevin Flatow 2-4 6-6 10; Neil Christiaens 8-14 2-3 19; Derek Hibbert 2-6 0-0 4; Josh Keller 2-4 4-4 10; Blaine Hanson 1-1 0-0 2; Jason Buell 10-17 4-4 29; Jeff Feenstra 4-7 2-3 10. Totals: 32-57 23-27 96.

Halftime: UMW 44, MSUN 36. Three-point goals: MSUN 7-25 (Stovall 1-1, Grant 0-3, Larry Morinia 1-8, Lamar Morinia 2-8, McLean 1-1, Bullchild 1-3, Moran 1-1), UMW 9-20 (Day 1-1, Christiaens 1-5, Hibbert 0-1, Keller 2-3, Buell 5-10). Rebounds: MSUN 25 (Harbaugh 6); UMW 41 (Feenstra 9, Christiaens 8) Assists: MSUN 10 (Lamar Morinia 4); UMW 16 (Keller 6). Turnovers: MSUN 11, UMW 24. Total fouls: MSUN 23, UMW 21. Fouled out - Moran, Flatow, Hibbert; Technicals - MSUN coach.


Larry Morinia 6-10 7-10 22, Reid Stovall 3-4 0-1 7, Lamar Morinia 4-8 0-0 9, Landen Grant 0-4 0-0 0, Dustin Sawejka 3-8 5-6 11, Zach McLean 1-4 4-4 7, Leo Bullchild 0-1 0-0 0, Berhane Williams 8-13 0-0 16, Travis Moran 1-3 0-0 2, Steve Ahrens 0-1 0-0 0, Trenton Harbaugh 4-6 0-0 8, Totals 31-64 16-21 84.


Jeremy Rudolph 4-7 0-0 10, Shane Sutton 5-12 1-2 13, Pat Weber 6-9 4-4 17, Andy Anderson 0-2 0-0 0, Dave Scott 9-16 2-3 20, David Dunn 0-1 0-0 0, Nate Harris 1-1 2-2 5, Clinton Kauffman 1-3 0-0 2, Kellen Ori 3-5 3-4 9, Totals 29-56 12-25 76.

Halftime: MSUN 43, TECH 37. Three-point goals: MSUN 6-15 (Larry Morinia 3-4, Stovall 1-1, Lamar Morinia e1-1, Grant 0-3, McLean 1-3, Williams 0-2, Moran 0-1), TECH 6-14 (Rudolph 2-4, Sutton 2-6, Weber 1-1, Harris 1-1, Kauffman 0-2). Rebounds: MSUN 35 (Sawejka 8), TECH 31 (Scott 9). Assists: MSUN 10 (Lamar Morinia 4), TECH 15 (Rudolph, Weber 5) Turnovers: MSUN 6, TECH 11. Total fouls: MSUN 18, TECH 18. Fouled out - none.


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