LEWISTON, Idaho – The 14th-ranked and top seeded Lewis-Clark State College women's basketball team used a balanced offensive attack to roll past 16th-ranked and fourth seeded Montana State University-Northern 72-64 in the Frontier Conference Semifinals at the Activity Center on Saturday night.
With the win the Warriors improve to 24-6 on the season and will host the University of Great Falls in the Frontier Conference Championship on Tuesday, March 8 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the championship are available at the LCSC ticket office or by calling 208-792-2471.
"We were able to find a way to win and at the end of the night that's the most important thing right now," said Warriors Head Coach Brian Orr. "They stuck to who they are as a team and we just made enough stops and scored enough points to get the win."
Lewis-Clark State had every intention of trying to stop Natalee Faupel, the Skylights leading scorer, but she finished with a game-high 28 points as MSUN found a way to get her the ball.
"I was concerned about Northern coming in as they've already beaten us twice and how were we going to stop Faupel. Obviously we didn't, she was tough all night long and gave us problems. We tried to guard her several different ways, but when you focus on one player other problems are created by helping so much. But our offense came through for us in a big way."
The Warriors got back to their calling card all season, a balanced offensive attack. LCSC had four players finish with double-figure points with every player scoring at least two points. The Warriors racked up 18 assists and were nearly perfect from the free throw line, a stat that proved key.
"Our bench really came through for us, especially in the first half," added Orr.
The bench finished the night with 15 points to just one for MSUN with 11 coming in the opening 20 minutes.
The game was all square at 17 after the opening quarter, but as has been the case for much of the season, the Warriors used a 22-14 second quarter to pull away. LCSC opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run with a big 3-pointer from Kaylea Knox (JR/Rainier, Ore.). A Brooke Litalien (JR/Post Falls, Idaho) three late in the quarter pushed the lead to a game-high 10 points and helped the Warriors to a 39-31 halftime margin.
"In the first half we were really clicking, but defensively, when a team scores like they did there's not much you can do. We went to the zone and couldn't get a stop or a defensive rebound and when we went to man they took advantages of the mismatches."
In the second half, the story became the free throw line as the Skylights made 16 trips to the charity stripe, including the final six minutes in the bonus, but converted just nine as LC finished the final 20 minutes 13-of-14 from the line. The Warriors scored nine of the final 11 points at the line to help seal the 72-64 victory.
"I didn't think our offensive flow was that good in the second half, but we did have 18 assists and Caelyn [Orlandi] is one of, if not the best point guard in the league. She's so hard to guard and she was able to get to the rim and find the open player tonight. She's the whole package."
Caelyn Orlandi (JR/Coeur d'Alene, Idaho) led the Warriors with 16 points and four assists with Brittany Tackett (SO/Coeur d'Alene, Idaho) adding 15 points while Hannah Byerly (SR/Caldwell, Idaho) tallied 11 points and six rebounds. Litalien also had 10 points with Megan Risinger (JR/Tigard, Ore.) grabbing a team-best seven boards
LC State finished the contest 25-of-51 for 49 percent accuracy while shooting 42.9 percent from the 3-point arc, draining 6-of-14. LCSC also converted 16-of-17 free throws while the Skylights went 15-of-23 from the line. MSUN also converted 21-of-45 shots (46.7%) including 7-of-16 from long range (43.8%).