Rivalry Renewed – Warriors Come Away with 74-71 Victory over C of I in Game 1 of CCC Playoff
LCSC Press Release
LEWISTON, Idaho – Three free throws made the difference on Thursday night when No. 4 Lewis-Clark State Men’s Basketball held off a potent College of Idaho team in the Activity Center. Trailing 71-67 with 1:20 to play, LC State took advantage of costly Yote fouls and drained seven foul shots to make up the difference and earn the victory in Game 1 of the Cascade Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship.
“Our guys did a tremendous job of responding to adversity tonight,” Head Coach Austin Johnson said. “C of I is a national-tournament level team and they showed why tonight. It was a big-time matchup and environment with each team making plays.”
Damek Mitchell led all scorers with 19 points in the nail-biter, while Jake Albright and Trystan Bradley added 14.
“We weren’t at our best but we gave ourselves a chance late,” Johnson said. “Our seniors really powered through. Each of them had their fingerprints all over this game.”
The Warriors jumped out to a 9-4 lead early in the contest on a 3 from Hodges Bailey and six points from Mitchell. Back-to-back baskets by Bailey made it a 14-6 lead and LC led by 11 midway through the first half.
An 8-2 run by the Yotes brought them within two with three minutes to play, and C of I grabbed the lead with a minute to go. A 3-pointer by Mitchell in the last 40 seconds evened the score 33-33 and sent the teams to the locker room.
Buckets by Bradley and Bailey got the Warriors off to a strong start in the second half. C of I rallied to take a 41-37 advantage, but back-to-back baskets by Bradley and Bailey tied things 41-41 at 16:45. College of Idaho took off on a run to take a 49-41 lead two minutes later and held that lead until Oreon Courtney converted a steal into a basket at 10:47 to make it a 53-52 game.
The two traded baskets with the Yotes eventually pulling ahead by four, 71-67, with 2:11 on the clock. C of I ran into foul trouble in the last minute and sent LC State to the line four times that resulted in seven points. Foul shots by Mitchell gave the Warriors a two-point lead, and one from Albright made it 74-71.
Albright squashed any attempt to tie with a steal on the final C of I inbound.
“We had a nice spark from Oreon in the second half to give us some life,” Johnson said. “We will need to be a lot better on Sunday if we want a chance to win, so we’ll prepare and try to get our legs back.”
Mitchell led the game with 19 points and was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Bradley added 14 points and tied for the team-high rebounds with Mitchell on six boards. Albright tallied 14 points and dished out a game-high seven assists.
LC State shot 46.4 percent from the field and forced 18 C of I turnovers. They had double the number of assists (18).
The Warriors hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series against College of Idaho. Game 2 will be played Sunday at 4 p.m. PT in Caldwell. If necessary, the Game 3 location will be determined by a coin flip.
The winner of the series will earn an automatic berth to the 48-team NAIA national tournament. Pairings and sites for the opening rounds for nationals will be announced on March 4.