GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Despite suffering its worst night shooting from the field this season, the Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball team found a way to get it done.
Using a stingy defense that helped create some offense down the stretch as well as hitting their free throws, the Warriors scored seven of the game’s final eight points to claim a 59-51 win over the University of Great Falls in Frontier Conference action on Saturday night.
The win helps LCSC finish the first half of conference play at 5-2. Overall, the No. 6-ranked Warriors improve to 19-3 and need just one more win for its 20th straight season with at least 20 victories.
Against UGF, LCSC made only 17-of-59 shots from the field for a season-low 28.8 percent. LCSC’s previous season low was two games at close to 31 percent, both of which were losses.
“We didn’t play well but we had a couple of players play well,” LCSC coach Brian Orr said. “We shot the ball horrible, but we were able to overcome that and win on the road so of course we’ll take it without question.”
The Warriors were able to overcome the Argos’ upset bid with some key steals, a 20-of-28 performance at the foul line, including 13-of-17 in the second half, and 15 offensive rebounds, including 12 in the second half.
LCSC scored the game’s first four points but latter found itself down 18-10 in the first half.
“The first 15 minutes was really frustrating to watch,” Orr said. “They got a few easy buckets on us in the first half.”
The Warriors closed the first half with a 15-4 run to take a 25-22 lead at halftime.
The Warriors kept the lead early in the second half, but The Argos, 1-6 in league and 7-13 overall, managed to tie the contest at 48 with 4:48 left in the game. That, however, was the last time UGF scored from the field.
“Our defense was good all night long, no doubt,” Orr said. “We saw Great Falls play at the Vegas Tournament and they have really improved. But we expected a battle. We’re a bit banged up and knew it would be tough.”
Tasha Bishop, who led all scorers with 15 points, hit her third 3-pointer of the night 14 seconds later to give the Warriors the lead for good.
After a pair of UGF free throws, LCSC senior post Alyssa Fierro hit one of two free throws and freshman Brittaney Niebergall’s steal set up a 12-foot- jumper by Fierro for a 54-50 lead with 1:50 left.
Orr said he was happy to see both players not only step up, but just actually play in the game. Fierro injured a knee during Friday night’s loss to Montana State-Northern but was cleared to play. Niebergall was hit in the eye during Friday’s game and woke up with a swollen black eye that she could barely see out of.
The Warriors struck again when Kirsi Voshell blocked a shot, grabbed the rebound, and hit freshmen Kelli Rice with a long pass for a layup and a 56-50 advantage.
After Lindsey Abramson hit one of two free throws for UGF with 48 seconds left, the Argos were forced to foul and Voshell hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 22 seconds to seal the win.
The Warrior defense shut down the Argos, especially inside the arc. UGF hit 17-of-60 shots for 28.3 percent, but was only 10-of-38 inside the arc. From the 3-point line, UGF finished 7-of-22.
The Warriors also forced 19 Argo turnovers and held a slim 40-39 rebounding edge.
LCSC had three players in double figures, led by senior guard Tasha Bishop’s 15 points, five rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Bishop had three of LCSC’s five 3-pointers in the game.
Voshell finished with a double-double as she had 13 points and 10 rebounds. She also blocked five shots and had hit 7-of-10 free throws. Niebergall added 11 points, seven steals, and four assists, while Fierro had eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
LCSC will play four of its final seven games at home, starting next week when it entertains Montana Tech on Thursday and Montana Western on Saturday. Both games begin at 5:30 p.m. at the LCSC Activity Center.