Warrior women dodge upset in Frontier opener
LEWISTON, Idaho – After such a strong showing so far this season, many probably predicted the Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball team to open the Frontier Conference season with a bang on Thursday night. Instead, however, the Warriors were forced to dodge a bullet coming from the barrel of the University of Montana Western. In the end, the Warriors were victorious 83-73, but the game was a far cry from easy.
Entering the game ranked No. 3 in the NAIA and with just one loss on the year, the odds were presumably in Lewis-Clark State’s favor at tipoff. However, by the 6:48 mark of the second half, the odds of the Warriors beginning the conference season with a win were not good at all.
LCSC trailed 69-59, Western’s Sammi Bignell seemed incapable of missing a 3-pointer, and LCSC seemed almost incapable of getting the ball to rim-in from outside, inside, and at the foul line. To make matters worse, Jasmine Stohr, the Warriors’ leading scorer this season, collected her fourth foul with 5:40 left in regulation.
Remarkably, the Warriors, now 15-1 overall, were able to turn the tide thanks to strong defense which propelled them to a 15-0 run and a 74-69 lead with 2:24 on the clock.
During the final six minutes of the game, LCSC’s full-court pressure, led by the athleticism of Kenna Reiter, resulted in seven steals including two back-to-back thefts by Reiter to help gain a 3-point lead with 2:33 remaining.
Madison Mendezona also stood out during the Warriors’ comeback as she was in the middle of many of the steals and also came up with a big pass to a cutting Alyssa Fierro inside to tie the game at 69-69.
The Warriors finished with 12 steals overall and were able to force Montana Western into 19 turnovers.
Despite the foul trouble, Stohr led LC with 25 points and five assists. Reiter had a season-high 18 points to go with a career-high seven steals. She also had four assists.
Kirsi Voshell and Alyssa Fierro helped the Warriors gather 41 rebounds to the Bulldogs’ 40. Voshell had 12 points and eight boards, while Fierro had seven points and a game-high 11 boards.
Montana Western, which is now at 0-1 in the conference and 4-9 overall, outshot the Warriors 47.6 to 41.5 percent on the night. The Bulldogs also benefitted from the Warriors’ off night at the free throw line. LCSC made just 24-of-37 (64.9) attempts.
Bignell went 4-for-5 from 3-point territory and finished with 26 points and six rebounds. Hayley Pettit added 14 points and six rebounds, and Nicole Tams had nine points and five assists.
Both teams scored 42 points in the paint, UMW had a 16-10 lead in fast break points, and LCSC had a 26-13 advantage in points scored off of turnovers.
The first half ended with the Warriors up 38-34, despite the Bulldogs’ slight lead in multiple statistical categories. Montana Western outshot LCSC 42.9 to 40 percent in the half, tied the Warriors in rebounds, and had one fewer turnover, but the home team went 5-of-14 from 3-point territory to hold the lead at the break.
In the second half the Warriors’ 3-point shooting cooled down which allowed the Bulldogs to gain a lead via the hot shooting of Brignell.
The Warriors will be back in action at the Activity Center on Saturday when they face Montana Tech. Tippoff is at 6 p.m., and fans are invited to stick-around after game for a chance to meet the Warrior players and receive a signed team poster.