Article by Harry Lipsiea, Devils Lake Journal, posted Feb. 20, 2014 at 10:38am.
The Lake Region State College men's basketball team has experience its fair share of heartbreak in late-game situations this season. No loss may have been as hard to swallow as the Royals' 115-112 overtime loss at the hands of Dakota College of Bottineau Jan. 27. Leading by three in the final seconds of regulation, the Lumberjacks hit a three at the buzzer to force overtime and ultimately win the game.
[Photo by Devils Lake Journal: Sophomore point guard Melvin Langstaff pulls up to score two of his 32 total points for Lake Region State against Dakota College of Bottineau, a Mon-Dak opponent. Langstaff spearheaded the LRSC offensive attack, leading the Royals to their second straight conference win and fourth overall.]
On Wednesday evening, however, the roles were reversed as the Royals hosted Lumberjacks in the Devils Lake Sports Center. A turn around jumper by Malik Durant-Haines in the final minute and several important defensive stops helped Lake Region State College capture a dramatic 72-71 conference victory.
"It feels great. The guys are happy, I am happy, it's awesome," Joe Kittell, head coach of the Royals, commented. "We have been on the other side of that several times this season. But our guys have kept fighting. This is a resilient group."
One additional highlight for the Royals was the play of a sophomore guard.
"What can I say about Melvin Langstaff? He was phenomenal," Kittell stated. "He has had a lot of special moments in this gymnasium and this was one more."
Langstaff led the way offensively for LRSC with 32 points. The sophomore, who nailed four shots from beyond the arc, was 11-of-15 from the field. In addition to a monster offensive game, Langstaff picked up a charge call in the final seconds of the game.
"I was just as proud of Melvin for setting his feet and taking that charge than scoring 32 points," Kittell stated. "He was huge tonight."
Much of the first half belonged to the Royals. Inside buckets by Channing Reed, Kharie Kirkland gave the home team a 31-19 advantage. The Lumberjacks battled back to get as close as two points late in the half. A three by Diallo Powell, however, gave LRSC a 36-28 halftime lead.
The teams went head-to-head for 20 minutes in the second half. For much of the half, the Royals would get up by five or six and Dakota College of Bottineau would cut the deficit to one or two. The Lumberjacks, however, took their first lead in the final minute as Xavier Cruz nailed a long two and a shot beyond the arc. Trailing 71-70, Durant-Haines ultimately scored the winning bucket giving his team the 72-71 triumph.
"Overall, it was a real positive effort," Kittell stated. "We played great defense in that first half. We had 21 turnovers and I thought that made the game closer. But it was a great win."
With the victory, the Royals improve their record to 18-11 and 3-6 in the conference.