ASHLAND, Ore. – That gust of wind that emanated from southern Oregon at about 1:50 Pacific Time on Sunday afternoon was collective exhale of the Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball team.
The Warriors earned their first win of the 2012-13 season in their ninth game, an 83-68 triumph over Simpson University in LCSC’s last game at the Flagship Inn Classic at SOU’s Riehm Arena.
Lewis-Clark State made 10 of 18 3-pointers in the game, and the consistent shooting from beyond the arc helped keep the feisty Red Hawks at bay.
“What a relief,” Warrior coach Brian Orr said. “I know the girls are feeling good right now. We came out really strong with great intensity, and it always helps when you’re making baskets the way we were today.”
Lewis-Clark State shot 46.3 percent (31-for-67) from the field against Simpson (2-5) and was nearly as successful inside as from beyond the arc.
Ornela Bacchini had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds, and scored six of LCSC’s first eight points in the game. But when Bacchini got in foul trouble as the game went on, the Warriors exploited the Red Hawks’ zone defense with long-distance shooting.
Loree Hill and Annie Kane each hit four 3-pointers in the game, and an LCSC trifecta always seemed to answer runs by Simpson.
“They played that zone for a lot of the game, and we’re always going to be opportunistic,” Orr said. “Shots were open in the corner, and they were flat on top. Once you hit a couple early in the game it can spread.”
Tanis Fuller and Kelli Rice also sank threes for the Warriors during the game.
LCSC took a nine-point lead into the locker room at halftime, but led by as many as 14 in the latter part of the opening stanza.
The Warriors opened the second half on a 9-0 run, which Simpson compounded by making three turnovers and missing two layups during the same stretch.
Hill, who played a season-high 36 minutes for the Warriors tonight and finished with a team-high 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting, hit a 3-pointer to put LCSC up 58-37. A slash to the hoop by Fuller nearly four minutes into the second half gave Lewis-Clark State a 23-point lead at 60-37, its largest advantage of the game.
“It was a career game for Loree,” Orr said of the redshirt sophomore from Liberty Lake, Wash., who missed nearly all of last season with an ACL tear. “She gave us a great lift today, and we need her to continue to play at a high level.”
Even with LCSC’s marksmanship, the Red Hawks reeled the game in a bit behind the relentless play of Ariassa Wilson, a 5-foot-6 senior guard.
Wilson had 18 points and a whopping 18 rebounds in the game, and seemed to have her hands in everything Simpson did on Sunday.
“We had a size advantage tonight, but Simpson rebounded the heck out of it,” Orr said. “They were quicker to the ball than we were, and Wilson had a monster game. She dominated the boards.”
Orr was impressed with the way his team continued to fight this weekend despite the bumpy start to the season.
“The pressure just mounts,” he said. “To win the third game in three days you have to be tough mentally and physically. The win is obviously a big step in the right direction, but these girls never got discouraged. We’ve never been in this position before, but they’re committed to getting better. They’ve shown a lot of resolve and I couldn’t be happier for them.”