The Great Falls Red Devils built a 13-point lead early in the fourth quarter and then withstood a Northwestern rally down the stretch to claim a 55-49 victory over the Trojans in the championship game of the Lindberg Moody Holiday Tournament on Tuesday night.
When Elisten Buchanan scored on a follow shot with 6:17 remaining in the game, the Red Devils led 43-30, and it looked like they were going to win going away.
Northwestern regrouped, changed defenses and came charging back. When Labris Adams' nailed a 10-footer with 1:38 left in the contest, the Red Devils' lead was down to 48-46. That was as close as they would get as the Great Falls answered the challenge, scoring a pair of lay-ups and three free throws in the final minute.
Leroy Roseboro scored on a lay-up and cashed in a pair of charity tosses over the next 30 seconds to give great Falls a 52-46 advantage. Kevin Keene answered with a free throw for the Trojans.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Herald
That made it 52-47. Adams stole a Great Falls pass and scored on a lay-up with 37 ticks remaining to cut the lead to 52-49.
Buchanan answered on the other end with a free throw, and Northwestern came up the floor trailing 53-49 with less than 30 seconds to play. When the Trojans missed a shot in the lane, Buchanan secured the rebound and made a perfect half-court pass to a wide-open Jacoby Canty, who completed the play with a lay-up and the Red Devils were home free.
"We got tired late in the game," Great Falls head coach John Smith said. "Our free throw shooting was not that good all night, but it was good enough in the end to help us win the game."
Both teams were cold from the floor in the first half. When it ended Great Falls was in front 22-16. Chris Belton scored for the Trojans with 29 seconds remaining to cut the half-time deficit to only 6.
Great Falls gradually pulled away in the third period. When it was over they led 39-28. The teams traded a pair of baskets before Elisten Buchanan scored to give Great Falls the 13-point cushion.
"Fouls shots and Roseboro made the difference in the game," Northwestern head coach Mike Gossett said. "We struggled from the line, and Roseboro played an outstanding game."
Roseboro led Great Falls with 22 points, and he was rewarded for his stellar play during the three-day tournament by being chosen as the MVP. Kevin Keene led Northwestern offensive effort with 16 points.
"Northwestern started attacking the basket down the stretch," added Smith. "We told our players to keep them in front of us on defense, and wait for the fouls and lay-ups."
Besides picking up three wins and championship trophy, Great Falls got a lot out of the annual tournament.
"We can not duplicate in practice the experience we got by playing in this tournament," Smith added. "This will definitely help us down the road."
Northwestern struggled to score all night long. That has been a trend for the Trojans in the early going this season.
"We just need to find a way to put the ball in the hole," added Gossett. "I am very satisfied with the effort, but I am not pleased with the results."
GREAT FALLS 55, NORTHWESTERN 49