North Idaho found itself in a rare overtime situation.
About as strange as Northwest Athletic Conference juggernaut North Idaho College’s dogfight on Wednesday night at rival Community College of Spokane was the play of star point guard Nate Pryor.
The one-time University of Washington commit struggled, throwing errant passes and shooting poorly against an inspired CCS, which appeared primed to snap the Cardinals’ 46-game NWAC winning streak.
Pryor was clutch, though, scoring the go-ahead layup with 11 seconds left as NIC held off the Sasquatch 103-100 in an East Region thriller.
He also got a hand on Spokane’s subsequent possession, forcing a turnover that helped Jaden Dewar ice the game from free-throw line.
“We came out kind of lazy, and Spokane played well. They played hard,” said Pryor, who was 3 for 13 from from the field with five turnovers. “And this is a rivalry-type game.”
Dewar, who scored a game-high 28 points, helped will the Cardinals (25-1, 14-0 NWAC) late in regulation and overtime.
The longer, more athletic Cardinals – a team comprised of its usual batch of NCAA Division I recruits, including Missouri transfer Christian Guess (17 points) – got all they could handle from a Spokane team (22-6, 12-3) that NIC head coach Corey Symons believes can win next month’s NWAC Tournament.
Because the Cardinals were hit with a series of sanctions by the NWAC last summer due to illegal extra student-housing benefits, they are suspended from postseason play.
“We haven’t been in many close games this year, and Spokane played well,” Symons said. “They’re the best (NWAC) team we’ve played all year.”
Spokane sharpshooter Austin White hit eight 3-pointers, including a pair of go-ahead 3-pointers in overtime, but the Cardinals swiftly erased each deficit.
The Sasquatch cashed in on 13 of 29 3-pointers, including Jaron Williams’ late jumper that helped push the game to an extra session.
NIC has beaten the overwhelming majority of its opponents by double figures, including a 85-68 win over Spokane in Coeur d’Alene last month. In Wednesday’s seesaw game, it never had a double-digit lead.
“This loss was definitely not for a lack of effort,” Spokane coach Jeremy Groth said. “They left it all on the floor. NIC is an extremely talented team, and were right with them, but some things didn’t go our way.”
Yusef Mohamed had 15 points and 10 rebounds for NIC, which committed 18 turnovers.
Williams added 18 points and eight assists for Spokane and teammates Jamal Alstrom and Kobe Reese each added 17 points.
North Idaho women 69, Spokane 46: North Idaho handled Community College of Spokane 69-46 in rivalry East Region women’s game in Spokane.
The Cardinals (15-10, 9-5 NWAC) forced CCS into 23 turnovers and outscored CCS 19-8 in the third quarter.
Demi Randall had 14 points, four steals and three assists for NIC, which swept CCS in league play.
Allie Parnell had 14 points to lead CCS (11-13, 4-11), in what was longtime head coach Bruce Johnson’s final home game. After 35 years on the CCS bench, Johnson will retire at the end of the season.
“Disappointing in our effort tonight. Not the way I wanted to go out,” Johnson said. “Sometimes it’s out of your control. Give NIC credit. Bigger, faster and stronger usually wins.”
NIC, fourth in the East Region standings, clinched a berth into next month’s NWAC Tournament.
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