Butler did it for Western men

DILLON — Montana Western’s Maazin Butler hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 1.9 seconds left to give the Bulldogs a 74-71 victory over the Lewis-Clark State College men’s basketball team in a hard-fought Frontier Conference matchup at Straugh Gymnasium on Friday night.


The Warriors perfectly executed a potential game-winning play after a timeout, but Brady Bagby’s 3-point attempt caromed off the backboard and then the front rim before falling harmlessly to the floor as time expired.

The loss drops the Warriors to 13-4 overall and 1-2 in Frontier Conference play. Montana Western moves to 9-5 overall and 2-1 in the league with the win.

E.J. Farris led the Warriors with 18 points, but was just 5-for-15 from the field in the contest. Bagby added 15 points and Robert Ellis tacked on 13 points, six rebounds and four assists for the Warriors.

Neither team led by more than eight points throughout the game, which featured 10 ties and 11 lead changes.

Most other statistics were a virtual dead heat between the Warriors and Bulldogs all game.

“We just had a few too many untimely turnovers and missed free throws tonight,” LCSC coach Brandon Rinta said. “There were a few too many possessions with defensive breakdowns. It was back and forth, but at the end of the day they hit one more shot than us.”

LCSC built an eight-point lead at 52-44 with 15:27 to go in the second half, but the Bulldogs got a pair of 3-pointers from Gabe Rucker and Jordan Overstreet to tie the game at 52 a few minutes later.

With 7:57 left, Montana Western took a six-point lead on a bucket by Shyke Smalls in the paint, but a 3-pointer by Farris knotted things at 65 with 5:43 to go.

After Farris tied the game at 71 with two free throws with 3:11 left on the clock, the Warriors had chances to stake their claim to the victory in the waning minutes.

Bagby missed two free throws with 2:28 left and after both teams traded missed shots on their next two possessions in the final minute, the junior from Spokane went over the baseline while trying to corral a rebound to give the Bulldogs another possession.

Rinta figured on the ball going to Butler for the potential game-winner.

“We had to contain him and we did. He hit an unbelievable off-balance step-back three to virtually win it,” he said. “But with 1.9 seconds, you can’t ask for a look much better than what we got.”

Butler had 18 points to lead Montana Western, and the Warriors had to battle to contain his dribble penetration throughout the game.

Jake Owsley added 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Shyke Smalls scored 10.

— L-C State Sports Information