Basketball teams open FC play at home Saturday
Women’s and men’s basketball doubleheader: vs. Westminster, Saturday, Jan. 6, LCSC Activity Center. Women tipoff, 6 p.m.; men tipoff, 8 p.m.
The Warriors kick off what looks to be another tough Frontier Conference season this Saturday at home against Westminster at 6 p.m.
The Warriors, 14-1 overall and ranked No. 8 in the NAIA, are one of six conference teams with impressive records, five of which have won at least their last six games.
LCSC, riding a six-game win streak, was picked to finish second in the league by a vote of the conference coaches in the preseason. Westminster, which has won seven straight to stand 12-4 overall, was picked to finish seventh in the eight-team league. Westminster has won 11 of its last 13 games with the two losses both coming to Eastern Oregon, including one in a tournament at Lewiston.
Although they have yet to play, LCSC and Westminster know what to expect. The two have played in two tournaments together this season, which featured two games in Lewiston and three in Salt Lake City.
Sophomore guards Elisa Leader and Shannon Evans lead the Griffins in scoring at 15.4 and 14.7 points per game, respectively. Janae Hirschi and Alicia Haberle are at 10.5 and 10.2 points, respectively. Hirschi, a 6-foot junior post, leads the team in rebounding at 6.0 per game.
As a team, Westminster is shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from the 3-point line. The Griffins are averaging better than eight 3-pointers a game. They are also averaging 72.3 points per game and allowing 59.4.
The Warriors have outscored the opposition by more than 25 points a game this season (82.8-57.7). Part of the reason is the LCSC defense is forcing 22.7 turnovers a ballgame, giving the Warriors some fastbreak opportunities. LCSC is shooting 47.4 percent from the field, while holding the opposition to 37.7 percent.
Senior post Ashley Baker is averaging 16.0 points per game, which ranks her fifth overall in the conference. She is also the team’s top rebounder at 7.9 per game. Fellow senior forward Aundrea Morrison is at 15.9 points and 5.7 rebounds a contest. Janeen Nelson also is in double figures at 12.2 points per game.
Nationally, the Warriors rank fifth in the NAIA in scoring, scoring margin, and assist-to-turnover ratio. They also are sixth in rebounding margin and field goal percentage.
Overall Frontier Conference standings – Carroll 16-0, Montana-Western 15-1, LCSC 14-1, Montana Tech 12-2, Montana State-Northern 12-3, Westminster 12-4, Rocky Mountain 6-10, Great Falls 2-11.
The second-hottest team in the Frontier Conference, which also has the best overall nonconference record, will play at the Activity Saturday night at 8 p.m. when LCSC and Westminster collide to open FC play.
However, the hot team that can boast the best record may be somewhat of a surprise.
The Warriors, winners of five straight, bring an 11-4 record into the opener, while Westminster has lost two straight to stand 8-7 overall. In the conference preseason coach’s poll, Westminster was picked to win the conference title, while LCSC was expected to finish fourth.
Westminster certainly has been on a thrill ride of late. Four of its last six games have been decided by one point, including the two losses, while the other two games were decided by two and three points.
Guard Jordan Jacobs leads the Griffins in scoring and is one of four players averaging in double figures.
LCSC ranks seventh in the NAIA in scoring defense, allowing just 59.64 points per game, and is 14th in field goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to hit just 40 percent of their shots.
The Warriors, who have won eight of their last nine ballgames, are led by junior post Mike Gordy, who is averaging a team-best 16.4 points and 5.8 rebounds a game. Senior guard Teran Lee is at 13.2 points, while senior post Chris Pitts is at 5.7 rebounds per contest.
Robert Comer, one of LCSC’s leading 3-point threats, returned to action last week after missing nearly a month with an injury.
Overall Frontier Conference standings – LCSC 11-4, Great Falls 11-5, Carroll 10-5, Montana State-Northern 10-5, Rocky Mountain 10-6, Westminster 8-7, Montana-Western 6-7, Montana Tech 5-8.