L-C coach reaches milestone at Carroll

HELENA — With a hard-fought 59-55 win for the Warriors over No. 16 Carroll College on Saturday night, Lewis-Clark State College head coach Brian Orr became the winningest women’s basketball coach in program history.

The victory lifts Orr’s career mark to 311-103 in 13 seasons at the helm (2001-2014). He surpasses Mike Divilbiss who went 310-122 in 14 seasons from 1987-2001.

Despite the milestone, Orr was quick to downplay the record and instead highlight what he called an “incredible” effort from his players on Saturday in the face of great adversity.

“It’s no big deal because, hey, we’re going to keep winning more games,” said Orr with a laugh. “I’m just so proud of our players tonight. There’s not a player on our team that is not coughing. It was a truly remarkable effort by a bunch of sick girls.”

Already without McKenzia Heaslet (back) and Laurenna Plourd (bronchitis) who did not make the trip, the Warriors were also missing Megan Risinger who went to the emergency room in the morning and has been diagnosed with mononucleosis. Risinger is expected to be out three to five weeks.

This left nine ailing Warriors to play the game, and it seemed to be just enough as the team overcame an early 11-2 deficit with grit and solid defense to pull ahead 25-23 at the half and then hang on the rest of the way. The lead grew to as many as eight in the second half, but Carroll didn’t go away and forced the Warriors to make key free throws down the stretch.

LCSC, which topped Montana Western 49-45 on Friday night, improves to 16-1 overall and holds sole possession of first place in the Frontier Conference with a league record of 4-0. Carroll falls to 7-7 and 0-3.

“What makes this special is that we won two games in a tough league, on the road, and shorthanded,” said Orr. “Carroll played well tonight too. They were tough, but it seemed like every time we were there. I’m saying our defense won this one.”

The Warriors forced Carroll into 13 turnovers while committing just eight miscues of their own. They also held the Saints to a 34.6 percent mark from the field, while making 39.6 percent of their own attempts.

“We had a lot of players play well. Tanis was tough today. Talk about a sick girl—she’s been sick about 10 days.”

Fuller, a junior post from Lewiston, Idaho, led with game-highs of 16 points and eight rebounds. Caelyn Orlandi had 11 points, seven boards, and four assists, and Brittaney Niebergall had 10 points, including two on free throws in the final minute. Hannah Byerly, who carried much of the load of the missing post players, added six points and five rebounds.

Bailey Snelling led the Saints with 16 points and five assists.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of them,” Orr said. “Last night was a tough game, and I was worried about us being a step slow today, but I thought we were actually a step quicker. We had tremendous energy… We wanted to leave it out on the floor, and that’s what they did.”

Orr, who is from Livingston, Mont., has led Lewis-Clark State to three conference titles, five conference tournament titles, and 10 appearances at the NAIA National Tournament. He holds a career winning percentage of .751 and his winning clip in conference games also stands at .751 (130-43).

“It’s all about having good players, and getting great support and we get it not only from our fans and our boosters, but from our administration,” Orr said. “I always feel good about every win, and this was a good one for us.”

— L-C State Sports Information 

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