First-place Lights home for two
Northern men host Montana Tech tonight, Carroll College Saturday
Last updated 1/13/2022 at 9:11am
Home sweet home. That's where the Montana State University-Northern Lights will be for the next two weeks, and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time.
After beating Rocky Mountain College and Montana Western on the road last week, the Lights have surged into a three-way tie for first in the Frontier Conference standings, and their two opponents this week, are the two teams they're tied with.
Northern (3-1, 13-4) opens its Armory Gymnasium homestead tonight against Montana Tech (3-1, 14-5), followed a home game with No. 6 Carroll College (3-1, 6-2) Saturday afternoon.
The game tonight in the Armory will be the first meeting between the Lights and Orediggers. Montana Tech has become a dominant force again in the Frontier, and Northern head coach Shawn Huse is more than impressed with his alma mater's recent strong play.
"They have a great deal of experience back, to go along with some new guys that have done damage for them this year," Huse said. "They can score it well on all three levels. We need to execute great on both ends if we are going to have success on Thursday."
Tech is experienced and talented led by the return of NAIA All-Amercians Sindou Diallo and Taylor England. Together, the duo combines for 26 points and 11 rebounds per game, and are one of the best inside-out duos in the Frontier. But they also get help from sophomore Caleb Bellach. The former Montana State Bobcat is averaging 14 points and six rebounds per game, while shooting 42 percent from the 3-point-line.
Of course, the Lights have a stellar trio of their own to counter the Orediggers. The senior backcourt tandem of Mascio McCadney and David Harris are wreaking havoc on the Frontier this winter. At 20 points per game, McCadney is second in the Frontier in scoring, while Harris averages 18 points and seven rebounds per night. Joining the duo is junior forward Jesse Keltner. After missing much of last season with an injury, Keltner has come back with a vengeance, averaging 11 points and nine rebounds per game for the streaking Lights.
And while Northern will be a handful for Tech tonight, the Lights will also immediately turn their attention to a rematch with Carroll Saturday. The Fighting Saints are one of the elite teams in the NAIA thus far, but the Lights nearly took them down last month in Helena, falling just 73-71 in the Frontier opener for both squads. As always, Jovan Sljivancanin and his 19 points and 12 rebounds per game will be tough to contend with, but what makes Carroll so strong is its depth. Veterans like Shamrock Campbell and Ifeanyi Okeke are stalwarts, while Brendan Temple and a host of newcomers have made Carroll an absolute force yet again.
"Their record alone shows what they have been capable of thus far this season," Huse said about the Saints. "We suffered a tough loss at their place early on and are excited for another opportunity on Saturday. They excel at the inside/out game and we will need to be on our toes and play tough if we are going to get them."
Indeed, the loss at Carroll was tough, but since then the Lights have been getting better and better. They come into this week's homestead averaging 75 points per game, while allowing just 64 in league play. And, they have the return to the Armory on their side as well.
Tonight's game between Northern and Montana Tech tips off at 7 in the Armory Gymnasium. Saturday's game in Havre between the Lights and Saints tips at 4 p.m. Northern is also home next week to host Providence and Rocky.
NAIA Men's Coaches Poll
1 1 Loyola (La.)  16-0 591
2 5 William Penn (Iowa) 14-1 553
3 3 Talladega (Ala.) 13-1 542
4 8 William Jessup (Calif.) 18-1 537
5 4 Oklahoma Wesleyan 16-1 518
6 2 Carroll (Mont.) 16-2 499
7 9 Indiana Wesleyan 15-3 477
8 10 Arizona Christian 17-2 464
9 7 Grace (Ind.) 16-2 425
10 13 Thomas More (Ky.) 13-2 406
11 12 Jamestown (N.D.) 16-3 392
12 6 SAGU (Texas) 11-3 387
13 18 College of Idaho 14-3 340
14 14 LSU Alexandria (La.) 9-1 333
15 16 Science & Arts (Okla.) 12-3 301
16 22 Marian (Ind.) 12-2 277
17 21 Georgetown (Ky.) 12-2 247
18 25 Hope International 13-3 227
19 15 Xavier (La.) 10-2 211
20 17 Lewis-Clark State 13-4 173
21 25 Saint Francis (Ind.) 14-4 168
22 24 Indiana South Bend 12-3 167
23 RV WVU Tech (W.Va.) 15-2 156
24 RV Southeastern (Fla.) 15-3 130
25 23 Concordia (Neb.) 15-4 113
Others Receiving Votes: Faulkner (Ala.) 106, Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) 101, Central Methodist (Mo.) 96, Stillman (Ala.) 75, Texas Wesleyan 65, Bethel (Kan.) 63, Southwestern (Kan.) 43, Montana Tech 40, Florida College 31, Oregon Tech 17, Northwestern (Iowa) 14, Alice Lloyd (Ky.) 11, Pikeville (Ky.) 10, Menlo (Calif.) 8, Tennessee Wesleyan 7, Kansas Wesleyan 6, Rochester (Mich.) 4, Indiana Tech 4.