Argos down Warriors, advance to semifinals

GREAT FALLS — The University of Great Falls women’s basketball team waited 30 years between playoff victories, and Tuesday’s 86-80 win over visiting Lewis-Clark State was as sweet as a triumph three decades in the making could be. Stats

“All that time we spent in the gym in the offseason and over the summer paid off tonight,” UGF coach Bill Himmelberg said. “We were able to make shots when we needed them, and the girls made really big plays.”

The No. 24 Lady Argonauts (22-8) advance to the Frontier Conference semifinals against No. 10 and second-seeded MSU-Northern (26-4). That game will tip off at 7 inside the Armory Gymnasium in Havre.

UGF dropped a 75-60 decision to the Skylights last Saturday in the regular-season finale in Havre. It was the Lady Argos’ fourth loss in five games to end the conference slate.

“We had to look at ourselves in the mirror, watch some film and see what we were doing wrong,” Himmelberg said. “We made some adjustments and really came together and did what we asked them to do.”

UGF appeared perfectly in sync Tuesday. In a matchup of the two top-scoring offenses in the Frontier Conference the Lady Argos used a balanced offensive approach with five players in double figures.

Erin Legel, the regular-season conference scoring champion led the way with 19 points, while Lindsey Abramson scored 16 to go along with 14 rebounds. Stephanie McDonagh and Nneka Nnadi each had 15, while Darah Huertas-Vining contributed 13 – including several impressive layups in heavy traffic.

“We needed every single one of our points tonight,” Himmelberg said. “We had a lot of different girls step up tonight, and I thought they played together well and executed our game plan.”

LCSC (21-11) took its final lead when Caelyn Orlandi’s 3-pointer put the Warriors in front 63-62 with 8:30 to play. The Argos responded with a 7-0 run – including a pair of baskets from McDonagh and a traditional three-point play from Nnadi – to give UGF a 69-63 lead it didn’t relinquish.

The Warriors drew within three at 83-80 with 12.1 seconds to go, but Legel and Kendalyn Brainard made three free throws in the final 9.5 seconds to preserve the victory.

Natahnee Spencer scored 21 points to lead the Warriors. Orlandi added 18, Tanis Fuller chipped in 16 to go along with a team-high nine rebounds, and Brittany Tackett scored 10 off the bench.

The Lady Argos split their two meetings with MSUN, claiming an 82-64 victory Jan. 31 at the McLaughlin Center.

Sixth-seeded Montana Tech upset third-seeded Carroll 52-45 in the other conference quarterfinal. The Orediggers will play at top-seeded Westminster Friday with the winner advancing to the championship game.

 — UGF Sports Information

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