Niebergall returns, but Warriors' hopes dashed again
EUGENE, Ore. – Despite the return of starting point guard Brittaney Niebergall, the Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball team again came out on the wrong end of a close game with New Hope Christian College. The Warriors led by three points with less than a minute remaining, but the Deacons fought their way back to win by a final score of 65-62 on Saturday afternoon.
“We had a lot of chances,” said LCSC head coach Brian Orr. “We had the lead late in the game, but we just didn’t play smart down the stretch. And we didn’t get any breaks. The ball didn’t bounce our way.”
The loss stands as the second time the ball hasn’t bounced in LCSC’s favor against New Hope. The Warriors (1-9) fell in the final seconds to the Deacons, 74-72, earlier this year.
Niebergall, who has been sidelined with an injury since the season opener on Oct. 31, hit a free throw to give the Warriors a 62-59 advantage with 51 seconds remaining on Saturday. However, New Hope’s 6-foot post Deanna Tupai countered with back-to-back buckets to put the Deacons in front for good.
“We had an opportunity to close it out and we couldn’t get it done. I’d hate to say that our youth showed up, but at times it did,” said Orr. “We’re hoping that being in these close games will teach us something.”
Tupai finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
“She made some big shots for them down the stretch. We had a hard time guarding her.”
Lei Lolohea also caused problems for the Warriors as she rolled to a double-double of 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Tanis Fuller turned in one of the stronger games for LCSC, scoring a season-high 15 points and collecting six rebounds and four steals. McKenzie Heaslet added a team-high seven rebounds, and Ornela Bacchini had 10 points and four rebounds.
The Warriors were slowed by foul trouble throughout the contest. Bacchini picked up two fouls within the first two minutes and Loree Hill ended up fouling out of the game. The Warriors finished with 22 fouls to New Hope’s 14.
“We had players in foul trouble during the entire game, but we’ve got to be able to overcome those challenges.”
The Warriors started the game strong and built an eight-point lead at 12-4. New Hope responded in the first half though and fought its way to a 29-28 lead by the break. Overall, there were 11 lead changes in the game.
Lewis-Clark State shot 35.3 percent overall with a 22.7 percent mark from the outside. New Hope shot 39.6 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.
“We just didn’t shoot the ball well. We had open looks and just couldn’t knock down the three ball.”
Niebergall, last year’s Frontier Conference Freshman of the Year, ended up playing only 24 minutes. She scored four points and added four assists and two steals.
“I thought our preparation was good. I thought our focus was as good as we’ve had all year,” said Orr. “But there were a lot of things in the game that were out of our control. The road can be cruel to you.”
The Warriors will continue their two-game road trip with a trip to Salem, Ore., to face Willamette University at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.
“Obviously, there’s no time to hang our heads. We don’t have any time to waste. We need to be able to bounce back.”