By Bruce Sayler
Upset was in the air, but then so was the buzzer shot by Lewis-Clark State’s Jansen Edmiston. The 3-pointer fell as the buzzer sounded and the No. 2-ranked Warriors had escaped Montana Tech’s HPER Complex with a 78-75 women’s basketball win Friday night. Stats
The ferocious contest marked the Orediggers’ first home Frontier Conference of the season and showed that this young is ready to compete at the level.
Head coach Carly Sanon thought they should have won. Montana Tech led 46-30 late in the second quarter and was ahead by a 46-32 margin at halftime. After the Warriors, runners-up in last year’s NAIA National Tournament, caught up, the Orediggers shook them off again. The home team led 75-72 with 1 minute, 6 seconds left after two consecutive treys by freshman Mesa Williams.
Edmisten, however, drilled a three with 41 seconds left in the game. Montana Tech set up a play and shot from outside missed, but Williams grabbed the rebound. Sanon called a timeout. The Orediggers inbounded and pushed the ball inside. The layup fell off the rim and Hailey Turner snared the carom for the Warriors.
Lewis-Clark State called a timeout and veteran coach Brian Orr gathered the team to the bench. The ball was inbounded from the frontcourt with about a second and a half left and Jensen drained the 25-footer.
“We missed too many layups and bunnies,” Sanon said, remarking not only about the waning seconds but also general play in the second half. “With 12 seconds left, we missed a layup. You can’t ask for a better shot.”
Williams had a big night and with a larger contingent from her hometown of White Sulphur Springs cheering for her from the stands. She sparked Montana Tech in the first half with 11 points, three assists, two steals and a rebound. She finished with a career-high 23 points and was a perfect 5-for-5 from 3-point range while going 8-for-11 from the field.
“Mesa had a big game,” Sanon complimented.
The coach said her team suffered from some of the same maladies as in a 64-56 loss at Montana Western on Tuesday night.
“They kind of the same things as Tuesday,” she said. “We had too many turnovers in the second half and many came in the backcourt, on which they got layups. They’re a good team, but we have to clean this up. We can win these games.”
Lewis-Clark State looked to dominate early and led 21-12 at 2:46 of the first quarter afger a 3-pointr by Abbie Johnson. The Orediggers, though, narrowed the gap to 21-17 by quarter’s end on a drive to the hoop by Hannah Sparks and a 3-pointer by Kourtney Coverdell.
The Orediggers took their first lead at 26-25 on a 3-point basket by Monica Landdeck at 8:52 of the second period. Shay Potter stepped a strong move to the basket for a hoop and then Coverdell netted another 3-pointer and the Oredigger lead grew to 31-25. The home team outscored the Warriors 13-3 the last 4:44 of the half to gain the 46-32 bulge by intermission. Three-pointers by Mollie Peoples and Sparks capped the surge.
“We had no trouble with their zone in the first half,” Sanon said. “Our man offense was working, but again, in the third quarter, we did (have trouble with the zone defense).”
L-C State outscored the Orediggers 22-14 in the third quarter and trailed by only 60-54 going into the last frame. Layups and pullup jumpers keyed the Warrior rally led by Edmiston and Peyton Souvenir.
The Warriors then scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to tie the count at 60-all. Turner and Lauren Johnson strung the points.
Kaylynn Coverdell broke the tie for Montana Tech by caging a pass inside from Potter. Turner hit on a short hook and again on a short jumper for a 68-64 Lewis-Clark State edge. The Warriors stayed ahead until Williams’ back-to-back treys before pulling out the win at the end.
“Their press hurt us in the third quarter,” Sanon said. “Some of it is because of our youth, but we have to get better at that.”
Eleven Oredigger saw floor time as Sanon subbed pretty freely throughout the tilt.
“We’re keeping them fresh,” she said, “and we use a lot of players because we have a lot who can play.”
The loss stung and the disappointment with the outcome was evident. Sanon did find good, however.
“It’s a good game for our program,” she said. “We’re right where we want to be, we just have to get over that hump.”
Williams was joined in double figures by Landdeck with 13 points, Sparks with 12 and Potter with 10. The Orediggers received 30 points from their bench, which was another highlight, Sanon said. Kaylee Zard led the team on the boards with nine rebounds and Potter pulled down eight, and Williams seven.
Edmison led Lewis-Clark State with 13 points while Souvenir scored 12, and Turner and Lauren Johnson netted 11 each. Souvenir, a 5-foot-8 freshman led her team on teh boards with six rebounds. Kiara Burlage, a freshman out of Montana Class A reigning champion Columbia Falls, contributed three points and a rebound to the L-C State totals.
Lewis-Clark STate is 2-0 in the Frontier Conference and 8-2 for the season. Both of the Warriors’ losses wete to Eastern Oregon in non-conference games. Montana Tech is now 0-2 in league play and 8-4 for the season. The Orediggers don’t play again until December 28 when they will be home against Calgary in a non-conference game. They will play Lethbridge the following afternoon.