Warrior women clamp down on Bethel
LAS VEGAS – Showing off its top-ranked defense, the Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball team opened play in the Las Vegas Tournament with a 66-58 victory over Bethel University of Tennessee in a battle of NAIA Top 25 teams on Wednesday night.
LCSC, ranked No. 4 in the NAIA, improved to 12-1 with the win, while Bethel, ranked No. 19, dropped its third straight game to fall to 6-5.
LCSC, which entered the game leading the NAIA in defensive field goal percentage (29.8), held Bethel to just 21-of-77 shooting in the game (27 percent). The Warriors were able to mix both man and zone defenses to frustrate the Wildcats.
“I thought we did a good job of guarding them all night,” LCSC coach Brian Orr said. “To come away with a win in this game feels good.”
The Warriors executed well enough on offense to overcome 23 turnovers and 10-of-20 shooting at the foul line. Those numbers helped the Wildcats cut a 12-point halftime deficit to five twice in the second half, and then to six points late in the game.
“In the first half we really executed well offensively,” Orr said. “It seemed like everything we called, we either made a basket or we got fouled. In the second half, we turned the ball over too much. The second half was all about our defense.”
LCSC held Bethel’s Jasmine Taylor and Jana Roney in check. Taylor, a NCAA Division I transfer who was playing in her second game for Bethel, did score 10 points but was just 5-of-17 from the field. Roney, who was the Freshman of the Year in the TranSouth Conference last season, just missed her season average with 18 points, but as Orr said “she took 21 shots to get it.
“I thought we guarded well all night long,” Orr said. “It’s a real credit to our defense the fact that we escaped after 23 turnovers and 10-of-20 shooting at the foul line.”
LCSC led 39-27 at halftime and increased the margin to 44-27 early in the second half. Bethel answered with a 16-4 run and cut the lead to 48-43 with 10 minutes left. Bethel kept the game close and trailed 55-50 with 5:15 left.
That’s when LCSC used a 7-0 run to put the game out of reach. Kirsi Voshell, who finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds, scored on an inside bucket to start the run. LCSC then forced turnovers on the next two possessions and buckets by Tasha Bishop and Alyssa Fierro finished the run to put LCSC ahead 62-50 with 3:15 remaining.
“Their length really bothered us,” Wildcats’ coach Chris Nelson said. “We played well defensively, but that’s a good team we played tonight.”
“You have to credit their defense in the second half,” Orr said. “They picked it up a couple of notches and it turned into a physical game. We could have extended our lead if we made our free throws. That was really uncharacteristic of us. We never really miss them down the stretch.
“All in all, it’s a good win for us. We’ve faced some obstacles on the road. We had a situation yesterday (Tuesday) where we were supposed to practice at 8-10 a.m. but didn’t get there until 9:30. The road throws you curveballs, so to come away with the win feels good.”
The Warriors continue action in the three-day eight-team tournament that has a pre-determined format with a 7 p.m. contest on Thursday against Madonna. The Warriors then wrap up their non-league schedule on Friday against the University of Lethbridge.