Sometimes a good basketball can even turn a coach into a fan.
That was basically the case Friday night as MSU-Northern escaped the HPER Complex with an 83-82 double overtime victory over Montana Tech in a Frontier Conference game. Box Score
“That was just a great college basketball,” said Northern coach Shawn Huse, a former Montana Tech player and assistant coach. “In the end of the day, it’s too bad somebody had to lose. We’re just really happy we ended up on the good end.”
The Lights came out on that “good end” because Roshawn West drove up the middle for a contested layup with 1.2 seconds left in the second 5-minute overtime for the win.
The play, which started with an inbound pass from in front of the Northern bench, had about 5 minutes of drama to set it up.
Oredigger Bryan Bock banked in a jumper with 7 seconds left to put the Oredigges up 82-81. The Lights quickly advanced the ball past half court and called timeout with 5.4 seconds on the clock after the officials added some time.
Tech followed the Northern time out with a time out. Then Northern called time out. Then Tech called a fourth timeout, causing Tech mascot Charlie Oredigger to fall back onto the court in disbelief.
“It was a real chess match going on,” Huse said.
When the game finally continued, West took the inbounds pass and took the ball to the hole.
Tech had one more timeout with 1.2 seconds left, and Keegan McCarthy caught a deep pass from Roman Pruneda-Garza. McCarthy got off a contested, off-balance 3-pointer that fell no good as the buzzer sounded.
The nail-biting loss ended Tech’s chance at a three-game winning streak. It also spoiled a big-time night by Antonio Snow.
Snow, a junior college transfer who became eligible after the fall semester, scored 28 points.
“He’s a lot to handle,” Huse said of the newest Oredigger. “They’ve got several other guys that are a lot to handle, and they proved last week how many points they can put on the board. There is no such thing as something even close to a gimme in this conference this year.”
Snow was one of four players in the game to score at more than 20. Adam Greger poured in 22 for the Orediggers. Corbin Pearson scored 26 for Northern. West added 21.
The Orediggers had chances to end regulation and the first overtime with a late basket. Northern’s defense, though, made sure those shots weren’t easy.
Bock missed a long, forced 3-pointer at the end of regulation, sending the game to the extra period tied at 67.
Freshman Marcus Payne was forced to take a 3-pointer that bounced in and out at the end of the overtime, and the game was tied at 74.
“I was happy with how we played, except for the turnovers,” Tech coach Patrick O’Herron said.
The Orediggers turned the ball over 13 times, and O’Herron said they were critical.
“The only thing that really hurt us was turnovers this game,” he said. “We had opportunities in transition to get some easy baskets, and we didn’t. (The Lights) are going to make it a grinding game, and if you don’t get some easy baskets they’ll make it an ugly game.”
Bock ended the game with 12 points, and Payne, a true freshman post, scored nine points to go along with nine rebounds.
Payne’s big night included a momentum-turning three-point play off a rebound late in regulation.
“He was the best rebounding high school kid I’d seen in the state,” O’Herron said. “I think he’ll be one of the best rebounders in the Frontier Conference when it is said and done.”
Brandon Ryberg added seven points in the loss, while McCarthy scored two and Pruneda-Garza and Austin Davis each threw in one.
Travis Peevey also played for the Orediggers, who fell to 2-4 in conference and 9-8 overall.
Northern improved to 4-2 and 16-4 as the Lights head to Helena to take on Carroll College on Saturday.
The Orediggers face a short turn around, too. Tech plays Lewis-Clark State at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the HPER Complex. The game will be the only one of the week for the Warriors, who haven’t played since last Saturday.
“They’re in a hotel resting,” O’Herron said. “That’s how the schedule is. We’ve got to come back ready to play.”