WALLA WALLA, Wash. – A slow start and a 46-29 rebounding disadvantage spelled trouble for the Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball team against Eastern Oregon University on Saturday afternoon. The Warriors were unable to overcome a 34-13 deficit at the half and ended up falling 62-36.
The loss snaps a two-game win streak for the Warriors (3-10), while the Mountaineers have now won four straight and stand at 10-2 on the year.
“You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They’re a senior-laden team,” LCSC head coach Brian Orr said. “They came out with a lot of energy and took us out of everything right from the very beginning.”
Eastern Oregon, ranked No. 10 in the most recent NAIA Division II poll, used three 3-pointers and a number of transition baskets to jump out to a 20-3 lead within the first seven minutes.
Facing a team with four seniors in its starting lineup, Lewis-Clark State (with only one senior on its entire roster) tried to find an answer but was outmatched by EOU’s defense.
“It was smothering. We couldn’t get the ball inside, and we couldn’t get any rhythm shots on the perimeter.”
LCSC made just 1-of-13 attempts from the outside, while the Mountaineers were 8-for-26.
Overall, both teams shot 35 percent from the floor, but the Mountaineers had the luxury of extra chances thanks to a 22-5 advantage in offensive rebounds.
“Everybody on their team can shoot the three-ball,” said Orr. “That puts a lot of pressure on your defense, but the biggest thing is that we just couldn’t rebound the ball.”
Rebounding has been a shortcoming for the Warriors in many games this season, however, the weakness was especially apparent on Saturday due to the absence of 6-foot-2 post Ornela Bacchini, who is out with an ankle injury.
“Coming into the game she’s our leading rebounder, and not having her is critical,” said Orr.
Korrie Bourn topped Eastern with 16 points and seven boards, Kelsea Hurliman added 14 points and eight rebounds, and Brooke Randall had 12 points. Hurliman was 4-for-8 from 3-point territory.
Niebergall, a 5-foot-3 guard, led the team with six rebounds to go with a team-high 15 points. The game was a good sign for the sophomore as she continues to regain her form after sitting out eight games with a knee injury.
“We’d like to think at some point in the season we’re gonna be at full strength,” said Orr. “Brittaney is still a long way from being the Brittaney that we knew before, and now having Ornela out really hurts as well.”
Ready or not, the Warriors dive into Frontier Conference play on Saturday when they host Great Falls at the LCSC Activity Center. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.
“I’ve got to do a better job of getting our players ready and prepared for a fight. We weren’t ready today. We had a game plan and we just didn’t come out and execute.”
The Warriors’ first league challenge will be a tough one as the Argos hold the second best overall record in the conference at 9-3.