WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Tanis Fuller seemed to be everywhere at once for the Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball team on Friday night.
And she needed to be, as the Warriors picked up their second straight win in a wild 86-77 victory over Corban University at the Kim Evanger-Raney Classic hosted by Whitman University.
Fuller had 23 points and 17 rebounds in the game, which featured a staggering 81 combined free throw attempts by the two teams.
Both totals are career highs for Fuller, a sophomore out of Lewiston. The 17 boards tied her for ninth all-time in the Warrior record book.
She was even more important to the Warriors than usual on Friday, after starting center Ornela Bacchini sprained her ankle in the team’s morning shootaround and did not play.
“Tanis played great,” Lewis-Clark State coach Brian Orr said. “She had great energy, and even though she sometimes has mismatches being a smaller 4, she can certainly get her shot off against bigger players.”
Annie Kane tacked also had 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting for LCSC (3-9), but the game was marred by the seemingly ever-present whistles.
A combined 52 fouls were called on the two teams – 33 on Corban – which resulted in Lewis-Clark State attempting 54 free throws, the second-highest single game total in program history.
LCSC attempted 56 free throws in a game against Gonzaga during the 1981-82 season.
“We had nine total fouls called on us in the first half, and within the first four minutes of the second half we already had six on us,” Orr said. “It was the type of game where you couldn’t get into any kind of a flow, but we found a way to win.”
Lewis-Clark State took their largest lead of the game at 81-66 with 3:09 to go on a bucket by Laurenna Plourd on an assist from Fuller, but Corban (3-8) still had a run left.
Emily Tsugawa hit a 3-pointer on Corban’s ensuing possession, a shot which kicked off a 9-0 run for CU that brought it to within six at 81-75 with 1:13 to go.
But Brittaney Niebergall, who played 34 minutes Friday after being limited last weekend in her first two games back from injury, made 3-of-4 free throws in the last 1:05 to help LCSC salt the game away.
In all, Lewis-Clark State shot 30-for-54 (55.6 percent) from the stripe in the game.
“If we make even 80 percent of all the free throws we took, the game’s not even close,” Orr said.
Overall, Orr was pleased with the way his team played despite the choppy nature of the game.
“We were playing a team that pressed us the whole game, and I thought we handled it well in the first half,” he said. “At times, I thought their press was our best offense because we got some open looks against it. I thought we defended well in both our man and zone in the first half, but we had some breakdowns in the second half.”
Tara Vanweerdhuizen, Corban’s leading scorer entering the game, victimized Lewis-Clark State for 18 of her 20 points in the second half, and fueled CU’s comeback attempt.
LCSC will have its hands full with post players like Vanweerdhuizen in the near future, as Orr expects Bacchini to miss some time with her ankle injury.
“It’s not a good one,” he said. “She’s going to be out a while.”
Plourd’s performance was encouraging, as the freshman needed just 16 minutes to net her 14 points. She also blocked four shots.
Lewis-Clark State will play Eastern Oregon, ranked 10th in the NAIA Division II poll, in their second game in the KER Classic on Saturday at 2 p.m.
“They’re a really good team,” Orr said of EOU. “We’re going to have to play at a higher level than we did tonight.”