Warriors fall to Griffins in regular season finale
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Ranked the best 3-point shooting team in the NAIA, Westminster College lived up to its reputation and drained its way to its second straight Frontier Conference regular season title on Saturday. The Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball team, battling for a share of the conference title, was overcome by the Griffins 82-77.
The Warriors, ranked No. 12 in the NAIA, led at halftime and even had a 10-point lead at the midpoint of the second half, but No. 11 Westminster ruled the day thanks to a 13-of-29 mark from behind the 3-point line and a tremendous effort from Nicole Yazzie. The freshman helped turn the tied with 20 points in the second half and finished with 25 points overall.
Saturday’s result means Westminster will be the No. 1 seed and the Warriors will be the No. 2 seed heading into the conference tournament. As long as both teams win, the Warriors are guaranteed to host during the first two rounds, while Westminster will host the first two rounds as well as the championship game.
The Warriors will open the tournament against seventh-seeded University of Montana Western on Wednesday at the LCSC Activity Center. The game time is set for 7 p.m. and because it is a conference tournament game season passes cannot be accepted. Ticket prices, as determined by the conference, are $7 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. Children age five and under get in free.
Lewis-Clark State led Westminster 54-49 with 10:02 left on the clock, but three straight 3-pointers from Keshia Catten, McKenzie Jessop, and Yazzie quickly handed the Griffins a 58-54 advantage.
Good free throw shooting and a few more 3-pointers helped Westminster build its largest lead of 10 points with 1:36 remaining.
The Warriors answered with a 3-pointer from DePeel, and a possession later DePeel hoisted up another 3-point attempt but was fouled on the shot. The senior sank all three free throws to make the score 79-74 with 1:12 left in regulation.
On the ensuing play, Jasmine Stohr came away with a steal and then drew a foul. At the line, Stohr made two free throws to cut the lead to 79-76 with 1:07 left on the clock.
Angela Fales then answered for the Griffins with a layup in the paint to make it a five-point game with a minute to go. The Warriors attacked the basketball, drew a foul, and gained one point at the foul line, but the Griffins were able to eat up much of the remaining time to put the game in the books.
Stohr led LCSC with 21 points, while Alyssa Fierro and Kirsi Voshell had 13 apiece. Fierro also had nine rebounds and Voshell had seven.
Besides Yazzie, the Griffins’ also had double-digit scoring efforts from Jessop and Catten. Jessop, who led with 11 points in the first half, had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Catten had 14 points.
Just a win away from their fourth regular season conference title in the past five seasons and home court advantage, the Warriors used their inside game to established a good pace early on, while Westminster relied on its outside presence from tipoff to the final horn.
The Griffins entered the game averaging 40.9 percent from 3-point territory and shot 44.8 percent in the game. Westminster, which also leads the NAIA with a 49.3 percent shooting mark overall, outshot the Warriors 48.1 to 39.1 on the night. LCSC was 6-of-20 from long range.
Yazzie was 4-of-9 from outside, Catten was 4-of-8, and Jessop was 4-of-5. Yazzie also had a game-high seven assists to go with her seven rebounds. Kenna Reiter led the Warriors with six assists.
LCSC may have been bested at the 3-point line, but it wasn’t outdone in many other areas of the game.
The Warriors committed only 10 turnovers to the Griffins’ 15, held a 16-9 advantage in second chance points, tied 37-37 in rebounds, and led 17-9 in points off the bench.
Despite seeing limited minutes, non-starters Ashley Honeycutt and Madison Mendezona came up with big plays for the Warriors. Honeycutt grabbed six rebounds—five offensive—in her 14 minutes on the floor, and Mendezona hit two 3-pointers in three attempts.
Both teams shot well at the foul line. Westminster was 17-of-21 (81 percent), and LCSC was 21-of-27 (77.8 percent).
LCSC is now 25-5 overall and 11-3 in conference play. Westminster improves to 24-5 and 13-1 and has now won seven straight and 20 of its last 21 games. The Griffins’ last loss came against LCSC 56-43 on Jan. 30.
Because of their national rankings, both teams are in a position to receive an at-large berth to the national tournament. However, the winner of the conference tournament will receive an automatic bid. Last season, the Warriors won their first two conference tournament games at home and then defeated Westminster on the road in overtime in the championship game.