NAMPA – The Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball team hung with Northwest Nazarene for most of the first half on Wednesday night, but the Crusaders went on a run before the break that fueled an 81-58 win in the season opener for both teams.
The young Warriors played the NCAA Division II Crusaders tooth and nail early, but LCSC’s inexperience and inability to prevent easy buckets inside were the difference Wednesday at the Johnson Sports Center.
For the game, NNU out-rebounded the Warriors 48-26 and got 44 of their points in the paint. The Crusaders also had 25 offensive rebounds, one fewer than the 26 total boards amassed by LCSC.
“The road really exposes your weaknesses, and we just got destroyed on the boards in the second half,” Lewis-Clark State coach Brian Orr said. “They just got rebound after rebound and we couldn’t get bodies on them.”
While the Crusaders were getting easy baskets off the glass, the Warriors struggled to run offense after NNU took a 10-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
Sophomore point guard Brittaney Niebergall led all scorers with 19 points for LCSC, and chipped in six steals on defense.
“Brittaney was good tonight, but they made her work so hard on every possession, and it hurt us on the defensive end,” Orr said.
Junior college transfer Ornela Bacchini added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Warriors, who trailed by just a point with 2:30 to go in the first half.
“She made a couple of great moves inside in the first half and kept battling on the boards, but we have to have more than just rebounder,” Orr said.
But that’s when the Crusaders came to life, going on a 9-0 run to close the period.
“The last three minutes of the first half, when they got that lead, I saw a whole different team,” Orr said of Northwest Nazarene. “They played a lot more relaxed and pressured the ball and passing lanes really well. Credit to them. They took us out of all of our stuff.”
Megan Hingston led NNU with 16 points on 8-for-14 shooting and tacked on 12 rebounds, eight of which were offensive.
Hingston helped the Crusaders build on their momentum in the second half, as they went on a 14-4 run to begin the period and widened their lead to 20 points in the first seven minutes. LCSC never got within 13 points the rest of the way.
Orr said the team has quickly identified what it has to work on as it heads out on the road again Friday to play Boise State in an exhibition contest.
“We need to replicate the pressure that we saw tonight in practice,” Orr said. “We’re a young team, and people are going to have to be patient with us as we get started. We have a great group that took a lot away from tonight. I see us getting better and better.”