CALDWELL – The LC State Men’s Basketball team gave the NAIA’s top team a run for its money on Friday night in Caldwell. Despite a career-high 17 points from Pullman, Wash., native Grayson Hunt, the No. 1 College of Idaho Yotes took the contest 74-63.
The Warriors nearly erased a 14-point difference to pull within four late in the contest. Hunt scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half.
LC State falls to 9-11 overall and 6-8 in Cascade Conference play.
“I loved our fight tonight,” Head Coach Austin Johnson said. “We battled all game, Ultimately, too many errors added up in regards to turnovers, missed free throws and some lapses in transition. We’ll look to fix those moving forward but proud of how we competed. We have a quick turnaround against a talented and extremely well-rested EOU squad.”
Davian Brown and Silas Bennion kept the score tied through the first three minutes of the contest, and Hunt put the Warriors ahead 8-7 at 15:21. Keegan Crosby and Anthony Peoples Jr. kept the back-and-forth going with the score within one before C of I surged to push the margin to 23-14 by 5:36.
Brown pulled LC within four, 23-19, with a layup at 4:43, but the Yotes rallied once more to push the difference to 33-21 two minutes later. C of I led 40-26 at the close of the half.
A triple by Crosby cut the deficit to nine, 42-33, 90 seconds into the second half. Buckets by John Lustig and a free throw by Bennion chipped away at the C of I lead before a jumper by Peoples Jr. had LC within five, 48-43, by 12:44.
Hunt added a basket and a free throw the keep the game within reach at the midway mark of the second half. The freshman added five straight points before fellow first-year Lustig added to the run to cut the margin to five, 58-53, at 5:32. A 3 by Brown made it 60-56 with 4:46 to play.
Free throws by C of I grew the Yote lead back to 66-57 in the final three minutes. Hunt added the final five LC State points before College of Idaho took the contest 74-63.
Hunt led all scorers with 17 points on a 7-for-11 night from the field. Lustig added 14. Hunt and Bennion led the defense with six rebounds each, Lustig dished out four assists and Bennion had three steals.
The Warriors shot .500 (25-for-50) from the field as a team.
The Warriors take on (RV) Eastern Oregon on Saturday at 6 p.m. in La Grande.
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