LEWISTON –The LC State Men’s Basketball team is playing its best basketball of the season, and doing so at the perfect time. The Warriors closed out the regular season with a 70-65 victory over visiting Warner Pacific on Saturday to clinch the No. 6 seed in the Cascade Conference postseason tournament.
Davian Brown scored the 1,000th point of his career, including his two years at The Master’s (Calif.), and John Lustig led all scorers with 18 points. Prior to the contest, the Warriors celebrated seniors Keegan Crosby and Kai Warren.
The win sets up a rematch with third-seeded Southern Oregon in Ashland on Tuesday.
“Super proud of our guys for clawing back into things the last few weeks,” Head Coach Austin Johnson said. “To finish sixth with everything these guys have battled through is extremely impressive. Lots of heart.”
Warner Pacific controlled the pace of play through the first 10 minutes with a 17-10 lead. A layup by Brown sparked the LC offense and led to a 14-point run to put the Warriors in front 28-23 by 4:17. Oreon Courtney tallied three points in the stretch, Lustig made two free throws and Silas Bennion drained four from the line.
Foul shots by Brennen Newsom and a 3 by Lustig had LC State leading 35-29 at the half.
The Warriors maintained their momentum in the second half with back-to-back baskets by Lustig and Grayson Hunt. A free throw by Hunt made it a 40-31 LC State lead 90 seconds in. A three-point play by Courtney, layups by Hunt and Sam Stockton and a triple by Bennion pushed the margin to 52-38 with 12:57 to play.
Bennion added five points to a seven-point span to push the difference to 17, 59-42, by 7:22. Lustig added eight points in the final four minutes to help boost the Warriors to the 70-65 win.
Lustig scored 18 points for the second straight night. He was 5-for-10 from the field, 3-for-5 from 3-point range, grabbed six rebounds, dished out two assists, had two blocks and collected two steals.
Bennion added 16 points on a 3-for-3 night from 3-point range. Courtney led the defense with 10 rebounds and tallied 11 points, and Brown scored 10 points.
The Warriors shot .451 from the field and held WPU to .393.
“I thought our guards were special defensively in limiting WPU’s high-level scorers,” Johnson said. “Oreon capped off a great weekend which was encouraging to see. John and Silas hit some huge shots late. We have a quick turnaround as we will head to take on a very tough SOU squad. Excited for our guys to get another chance to compete together.”
The Warriors travel to Southern Oregon to take on the Raiders on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in Ashland.
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