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Lights stop Warriors in an overtime thriller

 

January 26, 2018

Colin Thompson

Ryan Reeves throws down a dunk during Friday night's game in the Armory Gymnasium.

The Montana State University-Northern Lights knew full well that they were going to have an intense battle with the Lewis-Clark State Warriors. But, the level of intensity Friday night in the Armory Gymnasium rose to all-time highs.

And, it was Northern's intensity and emotion, under adverse conditions, which helped the Lights pull off a stunning 70-67 win over the No. 8 Warriors in overtime in front of a raucous Armory crowd.

The game was a defensive battle and was dramatic right from the start. But, it turned from dramatic to surreal with 7:44 left in regulation. That's when Northern head coach Shawn Huse was whistled for his second technical foul, which by rule, meant he was ejected from the contest. The technical came just seconds after LCSC's Trea Turner had nailed a 3-pointer to pull the Warriors to within two points at 42-40.

"I apologized to the team, and I apologize to everyone for stepping out of the box, having already gotten one technical," Huse said. "That's on me, and I need to be more conscious of that line in that situation. But the guys had my back tonight, and they played great. I'm really proud of them."

No doubt the tough situation gave the Lights an added spark.

Following the technical, Justin Dunsmore buried a 3-pointer, sending the Northern faithful into a deafening frenzy. The sequence also set up a wild finish to regulation which saw LCSC go in front momentarily, before 3-pointers from Charles and Gabe Porter on back-to-back trips down the floor, gave the Lights a 53-50 lead with 2:55 left.

Northern was still holding a 55-51 lead with :36 left when Race Martin nailed a jumper, and the Warriors going into a full-court trap on the made shot. Seconds later, Damek Mitchell came up with a steal, made a layup and the game was tied at 55-55 just like that. Gabe Porter had a look at a game-winning shot, but itdidn't go down, and the game inexplicably ended up in overtime.

But, as tough as the finish to regulation was for the Lights, they didn't panic. Instead, Northern opened overtime with an Adam Huse triple and a Charles Porter layup to surge ahead 60-57. The Lights would lead by as many as seven points in the extra frame, and while the Warriors didn't go away, including pulling to within two at 69-67 on a Martin trey with :07 left, the Lights were able to make free throws and get the stop they needed to pull of the incredible victory.

"Just really proud of our guys," Coach Huse said. "LC is a talented team, and they fought hard in a tough enviornment. Our fans were great again tonight. So I just couldn't be more proud of my guys for their grit and determination tonight. They found a way to finish the job."

Defense was a big key to the Lights' success, right from the start. While LCSC got off to a hot start, Northern would eventually hold the high-scoring Warriors to just 23 first-half points. On the other end, the Lights ripped off nine unanswered, including a thunderous Ryan Reeves' alley-oop during the run. Both Porters also hit treys which helped the Lights stake a 26-23 halftime lead.

And defense would be the key in the second half too. LCSC got off to a quick start again, with an 8-0 run, putting the Warriors ahead 36-34. But a big play by Anthony Harper and a dominant performance by Reeves on the defensive end, helped the Lights stem the tide, setting up the wild and dramatic remainder of the game.

"I did think we defended really well," Huse said. "I thought our guys were very focused and poised and played really hard on the defensive end."

The Warriors, who came into the game averaging close to 90 points per game, were held to just 36 percent shooting for the night. The Lights also held a commanding 44-21 edge on the boards, which was huge, especially down the stretch. Reeves and Dunsmore were certainly catalysts as well, with Reeves stuffing the stat sheet with 15 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks. Dunsmore hit a ton of clutch shots and scored 17 points to go with eight boards, while Gabe Porter added 16, including clutch three's all night, and Charles Porter chipped in with 13.

LC Women edge Skylights

The Montana State University-Northern Skylights did everything they could to break their six-game losing streak Friday night in the Armory Gymnasium. Northern played great defense, they battled one of the most talented and tenacious rebounding teams in the country, and they made a plethora of clutch 3-pointers.

It still wasn't enough.

Friday night in Havre, the Skylights succumbed to a late 3-pointer by Lewis-Clark State's Delaney Henerey, and the No. 23 Warriors walked out of the Armory with a 55-50 victory.

"Our kids played extremely hard tonight," Northern head coach Chris Mouat said. "So proud of the effort, and for the way we played for much of the game. Ultimately, the final two to three minutes was the game. Credit LC, they hit some huge shots, and in that last few minutes, we stopped answering. And we made some mistakes that really hurt ourselves.

"I couldn't be more proud of the way our kids continue to fight and battle," he added. "We just have to do a better job of finishing games because we're right there."

The Skylights did indeed battle. They had to overcome a tough 28 percent shooting night, but only losing the rebounding edge 42-40, holding the Warriors to just 36 percent shooting and forcing 11 first-half turnovers was certainly a recipe for success.

While LC started quick, three's from Shiloh McCormick and Peyton Filius helped MSU-N grab an early lead, and ultimately trail just 11-10 after the first quarter. Northern would also snap an 8-0 LCSC run with McCormick, Filius and Brandy Lambourne each making a triple in a two-minute stretch. Four more points by McCormick staked the Skylights to a 25-23 halftime lead.

"I thought we were very good defensively tonight," Mouat said. "I thought we did a much better job on the boards, and that was big because they (Warriors) are such a great rebounding team. And we hit big-time shots throughout the game."

From there, it was a test of who would blink first. The two defensive-minded squads traded leads six times in the third quarter, with the Warriors leading 34-33 at the end of a gritty period.

Colin Thompson

Northern's Shiloh McCormick shoots over a LC State defender during Friday night's game in the Armory.

Then, Filius opened the final stanza with a trey, her third of the game, and when McCormick hit a stepback three with 5:23 left, it gave Northern its largest lead at 42-38. LC nosed back in front on an Abbie Johnson three, and while Lambourne answered right back with a trey off a hustle board from Kealani Sagapolu, Henery's bomb from the corner with :22 left put the Warriors up three and the Skylights couldn't recover.

"We turned it over a couple of times down the stretch, and they (Warriors) made some huge shots," Mouat said. "That last couple of minutes really decided the game, because up to that point, we had battled back and forth all night. So it's tough. It's tough for kids, it's tough for me, but we'll just keep fighting and battling."

McCormick had a huge night for the Skylights, scoring a game-high 20 points, including three triples. Filius also hit three bombs and scored 13, while Lambourne finished with 11, and Jessica Curl grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. Defensively, Northern held LC to just five three's and 36 percent shooting, but, LC's three's were all crucial. Freshman point guard Peyton Souvenir was the only Warrior to reach double digits, finishing with 11 points.

 

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