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Friday, November 22, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports

Nic Levels Spartans, Moves Closer To Title

It was the best against the worst in Scenic West Athletic Conference men’s basketball Saturday night, and the carnage was predictable.

SWAC-leading North Idaho College outshot, outran and outdefended Colorado Northwestern, winless in conference, as the Cardinals punished the Spartans, 98-59 at Christianson Gym before 1,282 fans.

NIC (21-3 overall, 12-3 SWAC) moved within a victory of clinching the right to host the Region 18 Tournament. A win next Friday over Ricks College at home would bring the postseason tourney to Coeur d’Alene the first week in March. NIC beat Ricks 74-69 on Jan. 24 at Ricks.

Ricks (22-5, 10-5), the lone Northern Division team with a chance to catch NIC, fell at home Saturday to College of Eastern Utah (22-4, 11-3), 73-65.

NIC stayed a game ahead of CEU in the chase for the conference crown.

“If we take care of things (Friday), no matter what happens on the road (final two regular season games), we’ve got it,” NIC coach Hugh Watson said of playing host to the tourney.

For 13 minutes Saturday it was difficult to discern which team was the best of the SWAC and the worst.

Colorado Northwestern, which played Ricks tough on Thursday before falling late, reached 30 points first. And the Spartans did so in impressive fashion.

A driving basket by Jeff Sackolwitz gave the Spartans their biggest lead at 27-18 with 9:28 left in the opening half.

Although NIC started to cut the margin, the Spartans’ Mike Geiger made a free throw for a 30-25 lead.

That’s when NIC’s all-over-the-court defense and quick-strike transition took over.

Over the next 5 minutes, NIC forced seven turnovers and converted the Spartans’ mistakes into three 3-pointers and four layups as the Cardinals streaked on a 19-0 run.

CN coach Paul Conrad did everything he could to break NIC’s tempo, calling two 20-second timeouts and a full timeout. By the time the Spartans caught their breath, NIC led 44-30 with 2:14 remaining before halftime.

Game over.

The damage got worse in the second half for the Spartans as NIC outscored the visitors 52-25 and fell just short of the century mark.

Streaking to the basket for uncontested layups will do that to a team.

The lone negative statistic for the Cards in the first half was rebounding. NIC was outrebounded 17-15 in the first half. But a pep talk at halftime by Watson turned it around in a big way.

NIC outrebounded the Spartans 52-29 overall, and half of the Cards’ rebounds came on the offensive end. Bo Johnson led with 11 to go with 13 points.

Five Cards scored in double figures.

NIC 98, Colorado Northwestern 59

Colorado Northwestern (6-20, 0-14) - Johnson 6-10 0-0 14, Berry 0-2 0-2 0, Bentz 5-13 0-0 12, Hernadez 0-2 0-0 0, J. Sackolwitz 4-9 3-4 12, Cox 4-10 2-2 10, P. Sackolwitz 1-3 0-0 3, Hart 0-2 0-0 0, Anderson 0-1 0-0 0, Geiger 2-6 5-6 9. Totals 22-58 10-14 59.

North Idaho College (21-3, 12-3) - Myrick 4-9 1-2 12, Johnson 6-10 1-5 13, T. Myles 5-9 0-0 12, Webster 1-2 0-0 2, Rahming 2-3 0-0 4, Houston 3-4 0-0 6, McKanstry 3-5 2-2 8, Harrison 6-16 3-5 16, Banks 2-7 0-0 4, Bussell 0-1 1-2 1, Ryan 4-7 3-4 11, L. Myles 1-7 6-9 9. Totals 37-80 17-29 98.

Halftime - NIC 46, CN 34. 3-point goals - CN 5-18 (Johnson 2-3, Berry 0-2, Bentz 2-5, J. Sackolwitz 1-4, Cox 0-3, Geiger 0-1); NIC 7-19 (Myrick 3-5, T. Myles 2-2, Webster 0-1, McKanstry 0-1, Harrison 1-6, Banks 0-3, L. Myles 1-1). Total fouls - CN 23, NIC 13. Technical fouls - none. Fouled out - C. Johnson. Rebounds - CN 29 (C. Johnson), NIC 52 (B. Johnson 11). Assists - CN 14 (J. Sackolwitz 10), NIC 25 (Myrick 7). Attendance - 1,282.

, DataTimes

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