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Lights hoping for a repeat against Argos, Orediggers

 

January 24, 2019

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern's Devin Bray, left, drives past a Montana Tech defender during a Frontier Conference men's game Feb. 12 in Havre. The Lights are on the road tonight to play Providence in Great Falls, then head to Butte for a rematch with the Orediggers Saturday night.

The Montana State University-Northern Lights are going to play six of their last eight Frontier Conference games inside the Armory Gymnasium. But before the Lights get home, they have to try and keep winning on the road.

Tonight, Northern (4-4, 12-8) will travel to Great Falls for the second time this month to face nationally ranked University of Providence, before heading to Butte Saturday for a rematch with the Montana Tech Orediggers.

It was less than two weeks ago that the Lights beat the Argos in the McLaughlin Center, then took care of the Orediggers in Havre, so, Northern head coach Shawn Huse knows all three teams are very familiar with each other.

"We've been prepping hard for what Great Falls and Tech have shown this year," Huse said. "It will take excellent efforts if we are going to come out on top against them this second time around. They both play tough defense in their own ways ... and they both bring powerful punches on offense in their own ways."

Northern met Providence back on Jan. 8, a game the Lights won 87-85 on a last-second shot by Caulin Bakalarski in overtime. So, the Lights know the No. 23 Argos (4-4, 13-6), will be out for revenge tonight. And UP has the firepower to get that revenge with Brandon Cotton and Jalen Sheppard each averaging 18 points per night, and with Jaxon Hashley leading the Frontier in rebounding at nine per game to go with his 11 points per outing.

UP is also fresh off an inspirational overtime win at Montana Western last Saturday night, after what was a tough week, in which head coach Steve Keller suffered a heart attack. So tonight's game will be a daunting one for the Lights.

And on the road, things never get any easier. Saturday night, Northern visits a much-improved Tech (3-5, 13-7) squad, and while the Lights handled the Orediggers 72-60 back on Jan. 12 in Havre, Tech is a dangerous team with the likes of big man Taylor England averaging 15 points and seven rebounds per night.

Of course, Northern is dangerous, too. After starting Frontier play 0-3, the Lights have won four of their last five, including beating the Argos and Diggers in that stretch. Northern has been extremely efficient shooting the ball and balanced, too. Six Lights average double figures with Mascio McCadney scoring 14 a night, Adam Huse, Kavon Bey and Justin Dunsmore each adding 11, and Bakalarski and Devin Bray each chipping in with 10 per game. Bakalarski has been red-hot, too, as he's scored 16 ppg in his last five outings.

Northern will need that strong offensive play, coupled with the tough defense that the likes of Cedric Crutchfield and others provide in order for the Lights to be successful this week, as life on the road continues to be the theme.

"We know the road will be just as tough as this past week," coach Huse said. "Every road game in this league is tough."

But if the Lights can get through it, they'll be seeing plenty of home in the coming weeks, too. Northern plays its next four games in the Armory, starting Feb. 1 against Rocky Mountain College and Feb. 2 against Carroll College.

First thing's first though, the Lights are in Great Falls to take on Providence tonight at 7:30 inside the McLaughlin Center. Northern's game with Montana Tech Saturday in Butte also tips at 7:30 p.m.

 

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