Royals fall short to Bismarck State, 81-77
By Sam Herder
Journal Sports Editor
With a home playoff game on the line, the Lake Region State College men’s basketball team (18-10, 3-7) couldn’t land the final punch against Bismarck State College (10-14, 4-6), losing 81-77 Thursday in the Sports Center.
The result is the Royals likely dropping to the No. 5 seed, where they’ll travel to No. 4 BSC in the first round of the regional tournament.
But before that, two regular season games remain. And the focus remains the same since the start of LRSC’s five-game losing streak: getting stops.
“Fifty-three second half points, that’s the only thought we need,” Royals head coach Jared Marshall said. “If you give up 53 points in a half, you’re never going to win.”
The big swing of momentum was right before halftime and right after halftime. LRSC closed the first half strong on an 11-4 run to take a 37-28 lead. But the Mystics came out the stronger team, coming back and building a 51-45 lead seven minutes into the second half.
“One team came out of the locker room ready to go and the other didn’t,” Marshall said. “We weren’t that team. We messed up some simple things. We didn’t do our ball screen coverage right. We didn’t switch what we needed to switch. We didn’t battle in the post. Simple things since day one, we couldn’t execute.”
The well-balanced offensive attack from BSC proved tough to stop for the Royals. BSC had six players in double-digit points.
To answer, LRSC got a needed spark from Tom Kubank. Kubank, who had a game-high 22 points, hit two quick shots to make it 55-50 with less than 12 minutes to play. AJ Nywesh then followed with a 3-pointer. Thirty seconds later, Kubank added another 3-pointer to give the Royals a 56-55 lead with 10 minutes left.
BSC responded with a bucket, but Dawson Peterson got the lead right back for LRSC with a thunderous one-handed dunk.
But the Royals couldn’t sustain the momentum as the Mystics used a 9-2 run to take a 66-60 lead with six minutes and change to play.
LRSC battled back, though. Peterson, who had 14 points, scored five straight to put the Royals up 71-70 with two minutes left. Two Ryan Clark free throws extended the lead to 73-70 with a 71 seconds to go.
But the Mystics responded with a 7-0 run in the next minute of play to take back the lead at 77-73.
AJ Nywesh brought it within two for LRSC with 11.7 seconds left.
Two BSC free throws, an AJ Nywesh quick layup and two more clutch free throws for the Mystics took place in the final 10 seconds, as BSC escaped with an 81-77 win.
“I would have liked to see us get stops in the end,” Marshall said. “Offensively, they had no answers, we scored 77 points. We had a nine-point lead, they come out and score 53 in the second half. It doesn’t matter offensively if we can’t get stops.”
LRSC travels to United Tribes on Monday and hosts Dakota College at Bottineau on Wednesday.