Men’s College Basketball: Raiders can’t overcome halftime deficit against Northland
Central Lakes College hosts Northland Wednesday, Jan. 12
BRAINERD — Playing short-handed against a team desperate for a win, the Central Lakes College Raiders battled through a bad-shooting first half to tie the game at 60 late in the second half before falling to Northland 70-63 in a Northern Division matchup Wednesday, Jan 12.
The Pioneers came away with their first division win while the Raiders dropped to 2-1 and now face three straight road games starting with Rainy River Saturday.
The Raiders played without their rebounding and assist leader Zaa Buffalo who was out with a foot injury and they lost reserve guard Carrson Jones to a leg injury late in the second half.
“(Northland’s) back was against the wall as they needed a win in conference play,” said head coach Jim Russell. “They are a very athletic, physical team and they came in here and they wanted it more than us. When you think of the little things that we made mistakes on and how close the game was with the turnovers and the free throw shooting. All those little things add up.”
For the second straight game, the Raiders couldn’t get in an offensive flow in the first half and they trailed 33-18 at the 4:01 mark of the first half after a two-pointer from the Pioneers Zack Meyer, who led all scorers with 27 points. The Raiders trailed 42-28 at the half.
As was the case in Saturday’s win against Hibbing, Central Lakes came out with more defensive pressure in the second half and was able to hold Northland to just 28 points in the second half, but it took a while for their shooting to come around.
Trailing 52-37 the Raiders’ Quamar Gresham, who finished with 14 points, hit two free throws and a 3-pointer to make it 52-42. A two-pointer by Derek Aeilts, who led the Raiders in scoring with 20 points, made it 56-50 Northland. But the next possession revealed how much the Raiders missed Buffalo as the Pioneers Kenny Placide worked his way inside for an offensive rebound and was fouled, hitting one of his free throws. The second shot was missed but Northland’s Ashwan Phillips secured the rebound and got the put back to go in and it was 59-50 Northland, bringing a Raiders timeout.
CLC kept fighting, not giving up a point in close to four minutes and Jalen Dearring, who hit double figures with 12 points, got a floater to go in and two 3s from Gresham along with a layup from Josh Lewis tied the game at 60.
The Raiders couldn’t find the rim consistently after that and the Pioneers made six free throws down the stretch to come away with the 70-63 win.
“The key for us is that it is a big learning lesson and it’s key for some guys who want an opportunity to play, here is your chance with us being short handed,” Russell said. “I give them a lot of credit. They are a good ballclub and their coach has been around for 30 years and he runs a good, smart program.”
Along with not having Buffalo and losing Jones to injury the Raiders got just two points from their bench and were done in by poor shooting, finishing just 34% percent from the field and 20% from behind the arc.
They will only have two days off before heading up to International Falls where it won’t get any easier as Rainy River was 2-0 in division play heading into Wednesday night’s action.
“I hope we will fight and battle back and get it together because Saturday it doesn’t get any easier. Going to Rainy River isn’t going to be fun and no one feels sorry for us. That’s the key but I think we will be alright and we need to hit shots,” Russell said. “At home I always trust that we will shoot the ball and we didn’t. Being on the road you have to learn to be patient and that is what we will be working on.”