MOSCOW — Although its 11-point advantage gradually disappeared as the clock waned, Moscow had enough fuel left in its tank to turn back a furious rally from Inland Empire League rival Lewiston.

The Bengals played at their best late, closing within a possession at the 30-second mark of a boys’ basketball game Saturday at Bear Den — a contest that seemed all but wrapped up two minutes earlier.

But Moscow locked down when it counted, and didn’t permit the Bengals a clean look on a potential score-tying 3-point attempt with 10 seconds to go. The Bears clinched it with foul shots, surviving to claim a 62-60 win.

“We ended up with 12 turnovers, and I’d bet seven of them were in the last two minutes,” Moscow coach Josh Uhrig noted.

“We’ll work on it. (Adversity) is good for us, and I’m just glad we came away with the win despite all that.”

The Bears (4-4, 2-2), playing with impressive rhythm and balance late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, fashioned separation with a flurry of highlights.

Junior sharpshooter Sam Kees knocked in a pair of 3s to jump-start the run. Do-it-all senior Benny Kitchel converted two traditional three-point plays through traffic underneath, and junior point guard Jamari Simpson tacked on a fancy scoop, scoring after fooling defenders with a behind-the-back look-off.

Moscow, capitalizing on a coinciding cold-shooting stretch for Lewiston, found itself up 56-45 with 2:50 remaining. Yet then came the retort from an experienced Bengals team that couldn’t be counted out so early.

“What we do well is in our transition, and looking to attack,” Uhrig said. “We weren’t looking to attack anymore, and that definitely hurt us down the stretch. And we made some passes, some decisions that were not like us.”

Lewiston (6-4, 3-4) pestered Moscow with its full-court trap, collecting three consecutive takeaways. The Bengals got a major boost from junior Jace McKarcher, who swished a 3 and put in a difficult layin through contact — and hit his free throw — to make it 58-57 with half a minute left.

Composed junior Bryden Brown, who made four clutch free throws in the final 25 seconds, stretched the Bears’ lead to three at the foul line. Lewiston senior guard Kash Lang had to settle for a contested, deep try from outside, which missed its mark.

“They’ve been in big games. They knew the situation, and they just got tougher and tougher,” Bengals coach Jayson Ulrich said of his team. “I thought they busted their tails to get back into the game. That’s a huge thing we can build on.”

Kitchel, the focal point of Moscow’s attack, chose his spots wisely, and led the Bears with 19 points and seven rebounds. He scored 13 of Moscow’s first 18 points.

“Benny just has a knack for getting the ball into the hoop,” Uhrig said. “He executed and had a great first quarter, and that opened it up for everyone else.”

Simpson added 11 points and charged inside for a game-high 13 rebounds. Six Bears tallied six-plus points as Moscow shot 20-for-50 (40 percent). That kind of balanced production “is exactly what we want,” Uhrig said.

“Get everybody touches, get the ball moving around,” he said. “I have confidence in everyone out there on the floor to shoot the ball, and we’ve been shooting really well.”

The Bengals were held to a 21-for-67 mark (31.3 percent) from the field, including 7-for-32 from distance (21.9 percent).

Lewiston didn’t commit a turnover after halftime.

“But we’ve got to shoot a better percentage from the field,” Ulrich said. “Some were rushed, some we missed George (Forsmann) on the inside. But we tell them: ‘You got a look, you got the green light. You just gotta knock them down.’”

McKarcher topped all scorers with 20 points, including four 3s; senior post Forsmann totaled 11 points and five boards, and senior forward Joel Mullikin hauled in seven rebounds.

Bengal junior Aiden Hottinger buried a long, off-balance 3 at the first-quarter buzzer to answer Moscow’s early 7-0 spurt.

The Bears enjoyed six-point leads at halftime and entering the fourth period. Simpson and Kitchel were formidable on penetration plays throughout, which generated offense for the Bears’ marksmen at the perimeter.

That was key in Moscow maintaining a lead for about 28 minutes — but never an advantage that was out of reach.

“It was a great game to be a part of because both sides respect each other and both sides played hard,” Ulrich said. “I’d just like to be on the other end of it.”

LEWISTON (6-4, 3-4)

Chanse Eke 1 3-5 5, Jace McKarcher 7 2-2 20, Kash Lang 3 0-0 7, Joel Mullikin 0 5-6 5, Aiden Hottinger 2 0-0 5, Cruz Hepburn 1 0-0 2, Braydon Forsman 2 0-0 4, James White 0 0-0 0, Shadryn Goeckner 0 1-2 1, George Forsmann 5 0-0 11. Totals 21 11-15 60.

MOSCOW (4-4, 2-2)

Bryden Brown 1 4-4 7, Jamari Simpson 4 2-4 11, Barrett Abendroth 3 2-2 8, Sam Kees 2 0-0 6, Dylan Rehder 0 0-0 0, Cody Isakson 1 0-0 2, Joe Colter 0 3-6 3, Benny Kitchel 7 2-2 19, Tyler Skinner 2 2-4 6. Totals 20 15-22 62.

Lewiston 12 11 16 21—60

Moscow 13 16 16 17—62

3-point goals — McKarcher 4, Lang, Hottinger, Forsmann, Kitchel 3, Kees 2, Brown, Simpson.

JV — Lewiston def. Moscow.

GIRLSMoscow 31, Lewiston 29

Angela Lassen drove the baseline and converted a buzzer-beating floater to give Moscow its first win of the season as the Bears gained a measure of revenge in their fourth matchup against Inland Empire League adversary Lewiston.

Lassen, a junior point guard, scored 14 points for the Bears (1-9, 1-6), who led by 10 before fending off a Bengals rally.

“I was really proud of our team for competing and believing in themselves the whole game,” Moscow coach Alexa Hardick said. “Through the ups and downs, we were able to stay pretty steady.”

Emily Collins led Lewiston (3-9, 1-8) with eight points.

LEWISTON (3-9,1-8)

Emily Collins 2 2-6 8, Ahinka U’Ren 1 1-2 4, Emma Hill 0 1-2 1, Eliza Bursch 1 0-0 2, Katy Wessels 1 2-4 4, Jenika Ortiz 0 6-6 6, Zoie Kessinger 0 0-0 0, Karli Taylor 1 0-0 2, Sydney McRoberts 1 0-0 2. Totals 7 12-20 29.

MOSCOW (1-9, 1-6)

Angela Lassen 6 2-4 14, Megan Heyns 1 0-0 3, Ellie Gray 0 0-1 0, Grace Nauman 2 0-0 4, Payton Watson 2 0-0 4, Faith Berg 2 2-2 6, Chloe Baker 0 0-0 0, Elsie Leituala 0 0-0 0, Maya Anderson 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 4-7 31.

Lewiston 6 3 5 15 — 29

Moscow 8 6 9 8—31

3-point goals — Collins 2, U’Ren, Heyns.

Clark may be reached at cclark@lmtribune.com, on Twitter @ClarkTrib or by phone at (208) 627-3209.