FEELING SWEET: Lewis-Clark State men's basketball team advances to the Round of 16 in NAIA national tournament

Mar. 17—It's been a couple of years since the Lewis-Clark State and Montana Tech men's basketball teams routinely met on the hardwood.

The former Frontier Conference foes last clashed more than once in the same season in the 2019-20 campaign.

The Warriors and Orediggers ended that drought Saturday. They met for the second time this season in the second round of the NAIA national tournament at Kelvin Sampson Court in Butte, Mont.

The sequel was more competitive than the original and included 13 lead changes. But 11th-seeded LCSC got the last laugh and notched an 85-77 decision over third-seeded Montana Tech.

The Warriors will next play 15th-seeded Evangel (Mo.) in the Round of 16 at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.

"Tonight was another special performance by our guys," LCSC coach Austin Johnson said in a news release. "In a true road game to get to Kansas City, we persevered and handled the emotions of the game well."

Stars of the game

Seven different Warriors scored and six reached double figures.

Senior guard Davian Brown led Lewis-Clark State (24-8) with 18 points. Junior guard Quentin Raynor added 13 points and freshman Alton Hamilton had 12.

Sam Stockton, Jaedon Bradley and Gorden Boykins contributed 11 points apiece.

"Our seniors once again really spearheaded things," Johnson said. "As has been the case all year, this is a true team win; it's a testament to their character and competitive temperament. I'm so excited they get to experience KC."

Sophomore forward Hayden Diekhans paced the Orediggers (27-5) with 18 points and Montana State transfer Caleb Bellach added 17.

Asa Williams (11) and Ifeanyi Okeke (10) were also in double figures for Montana Tech.

A track meet in the first half

It seemed like Saturday's contest would come down to the final possession, at least through the first half.

Seven of the game's 13 lead changes came in the first 20 minutes and both teams were effective from the floor.

LCSC was confident in its shot selections, even from NBA range, and the decisiveness paid off.

The Warriors finished the first half 18-of-31 (58.1%) from the floor and 7-of-14 (50%) from behind the 3-point line.

John Lustig had nine points on 4-of-4 shooting in the first period, and Stockton added eight while going 3-for-3 from the floor.

The Orediggers were just as good, shooting 56.3% from the field, and Bellach led all scorers with 12 first-half points.

The wheels didn't fall off for Montana Tech until after intermission.

When the wheels fell off

The Orediggers struggled to score from underneath the basket and at the free-throw line during the second half.

In Montana Tech's 75-67 win over 14th-seeded Wayland Baptist (Texas) on Friday, it finished 15-of-25 (60%) from the line.

Saturday was another woeful performance for the Orediggers, finishing 19-of-29 (65.5%) from the charity stripe.

Even worse, Montana Tech was 8-for-28 (28.6%) from the field and 2-of-10 from beyond the arc.

A slow start, quick finish

Orediggers' junior guard Michael Ure went 1-for-2 at the free-throw line to give his team a 54-53 advantage with 14:31 remaining in regulation. It was the 12th lead change of the contest.

Ure's points sparked Montana Tech, which was 1-of-7 from the field and 1-of-2 from the free-throw line up to that point.

Both teams struggled to score in the second half, with the first field goal coming three minutes into the period.

After two empty possessions, LCSC junior guard Boykins converted a midrange jumper to put his guys up 55-54 with 13:35 to go in regulation.

The Warriors led the rest of the way.

Montana Tech pulled itself to within 57-56 with a Camdyn Larance layup with 12:53 left in the game. That was as close as it would get the rest of the way, as the Warriors responded by going on a 10-2 run that spanned more than three minutes to take a 67-58 advantage.

"We limited them in transition and on the glass, which we felt were the two main keys," Johnson said. "Offensively, we really shared the ball and got great looks both inside and outside."


Brown 3-8 9-9 18, Hamilton 4-6 4-4 12, Stockton 4-4 1-2 11, Bradley 4-12 2-2 11, Lustig 4-8 0-0 9, Raynor 4-12 3-4 13, Boykins 5-5 0-0 11, Peoples Jr 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 28-56 19-21 85.


Diekhans 7-14 1-2 18, Bellach 4-8 7-10 17, Williams 5-15 0-1 11, Ure 2-8 5-8 9, Dixon 1-4 2-2 4, Okeke 4-6 2-2 10, Larance 3-4 0-0 6, Bake 0-1 2-2 2, Deden 0-0 0-2 0. Totals 26-60 19-29 77.

Halftime — Lewis-Clark State 46-45. 3-Point Goals — Lewis-Clark State 10-21 (Brown 3-6, Stockton 2-2, Raynor 2-6, Boykins 1-1, Lustig 1-2, Bradley 1-4), Montana Tech 6-21 (Diekhans 3-4, Bellach 2-4, Williams 1-8, Okeke 0-1, Bake 0-1, Ure 0-3). Rebounds — Lewis-Clark State 31 (Stockton 9), Montana Tech 28 (Diekhans 6). Assists — Lewis-Clark State 12 (Stockton 4), Montana Tech 9 (Bake 5). Total Fouls — Lewis-Clark State 21, Montana Tech 16