BILLINGS – The Rocky Mountain College men’s basketball team feel victim to a torrid second half shooting effort from Montana State University – Northern in an 80-71 loss on Thursday night in the Fortin Education Center.
Rocky (13-9, 5-6 Frontier) built a nine-point lead midway through the first half before MSU-Northern (16-7, 6-5) closed the period with an 18-8 run to lead 37-36 at intermission. The Lights then came out of the break and shot 66.7 percent from the field in the second half to move one-game ahead of the Battlin’ Bears in the Frontier Conference standings.
Despite the hot shooting from the Lights, Rocky held a 62-57 lead with 7:59 to play when Austin Payne drove to the basket for a layup. The game was level at 67-67 with 5:17 remaining, but Northern finished the night with a 13-4 run in which they held Rocky to 1 of 6 shooting.
Jared Samuelson led Rocky with 20 points. His 10th 20-point game of the season came on 9 of 18 shooting and with four rebounds and one steal.
The Battlin’ Bears shot 42.2 percent while adding 6 of 19 from beyond the arc. They totaled 13 assists and nine turnovers while scoring 12 points from 11 offensive rebounds.
Danny Betcher added 10 points and 10 rebounds from his first double-double of the season. Payne finished with 10 points and five rebounds off the bench.
Rocky had a 26-16 edge in rebounds in the first half before ending the game with a slim 35-34 advantage. They scored 17 points from nine Northern turnovers and got 11 fast break points.
Gabe Porter scored 20 points to lead five Lights players in double figures.
The Battlin’ Bears will now look ahead to Saturday when they will host Providence in the Fortin Center at 7:30 p.m.