Warriors claim third straight conference tournament title!
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – With nowhere near the amount of last minute drama that unfolded in last year’s title game, the Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball team marched to its third consecutive Frontier Conference Tournament championship on Tuesday. The second-seeded Warriors, guided by 28 points from Jasmine Stohr, conquered top-seeded Westminster College in commanding fashion 80-60.
Last year’s game was decided in the final minutes of overtime, Tuesday’s game was decided, for the most part, by a 16-3 run early in the second half which was spearheaded by dominant Warrior defense and superb offense from Stohr. The Warriors never trailed in the game, and led by as many as 24 in the second half.
“It’s always fun when you’re cutting down nets,” said LCSC head coach Brian Orr as his players trimmed the nets off the baskets after the game. “It was a great team effort and I’m just so proud of them. They deserve this.”
Despite playing on the road and against a team on a nine-game winning streak, the Warriors, ranked No. 13 in the NAIA, didn’t miss a beat against No. 9 Westminster. LCSC outshot the Griffins 47 to 37 percent from the field, outrebounded them 45-26, and came away with 13 steals.
Stohr reached her season-high scoring mark by hitting 11-of-18 shots from the field and 6-of-6 shots at the foul line. Three other Warriors also scored in double-digits as Alyssa Fierro had a double-double of 11 points and 12 rebounds, Nikki DePeel had11 points, and Kirsi Voshell had 10.
With both teams in position to receive at-large berths to nationals regardless of the outcome, the championship game had a lot more to do with bragging rights than the automatic bid that is awarded to the winner. This stands as the second straight season that the Griffins have claimed the regular season title and the Warriors have taken the tournament crown.
As announced by NAIA officials on Tuesday, Montana Tech and Westminster both received at-large berths and will join the Warriors at nationals, which will be held March 17-23 at Oman Arena in Jackson, Tenn. The 32-team single elimination tournament bracket will be announced on Wednesday.
The Warriors, now 28-5, will be making their 14th trip to nationals in the past 15 years.
LCSC started Tuesday’s game at a torrid pace both offensively and defensively. In the first four minutes, Stohr collected four points, a steal, and three assists; and Kenna Reiter came away with two steals and five points to hand LCSC a 15-2 lead. However, the lead didn’t last long as Westminster, which ranks as the top shooting team in the nation, used four treys to cut the lead to 22-20 at the eight minute mark.
The remainder of the first half featured a lot of second chance points for the Warriors and good free throw shooting by Westminster to bring the score to 39-36 at the buzzer. The Warriors had nine offensive boards in the first half and shot 44 percent from the field, while the Griffins shot only 37 percent but made 11-of-12 attempts the foul line.
Westminster, now 26-6, was led by 17 points from Keshia Catten and 12 points from Dani Evans. McKenzie Jessop, who was named conference Player of the Year on Monday, had 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds.
“They’re a great shooting team and the first half was just a battle, but our players were so determined. I credit so many people on our team. Everyone who came in contributed,” said Orr.
Reiter, who left the game late in the second half with what seemed to be an ankle injury, led LCSC with eight assists and four steals, and had eight points. The extent of Reiter’s injury is currently unknown.
LCSC outscored Westminster 36-22 in the paint, and had a 12-4 edge in fast break points and 14-5 advantage in second chance points. The Warriors had 19 offensive rebounds in the game
How well the Griffins shot the ball from the outside played a huge role in LCSC-Westminster matchups earlier this season. In the teams’ first meeting, the Warriors held the Griffins to a 4-of-23 performance from the outside and won 56-43. In the second meeting, the Griffins made 13-of-29 and rolled 82-77. On Tuesday, perhaps the biggest surprise was that LCSC was able to get the better of the Griffins from beyond the arc. Westminster was 8-of-24 from long range, while LCSC was 8-of-16.