LEWISTON, Idaho — Brooke Litalien continued her solid play with 17 points, six assists, six steals and two blocks to help the No. 11-ranked Lewis-Clark State College women’s basketball team defeat Montana Western 71-50 at the LCSC Activity Center on Thursday night.
The win helped LCSC clinch no worse than a tie for the Frontier Conference regular season title and also gave the Warriors the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. At 22-4 overall and 13-2 in conference play, LCSC has a 3.5 game lead over second-place Carroll in the standings. The best Carroll can do is tie the Warriors, but LCSC holds the tiebreaking edge over the Saints for the top seed.
The Warriors, behind the solid play of Litalien and their defense, were able to defeat the Bulldogs for the third time this season. Litalien, who scored a career-high 18 points last Saturday in a win over Montana Tech, nearly matched it as she hit five 3-pointers in the game. She set career highs with the six steals and two blocks and matched her season high in assists.
“It all starts on defense and Brooke has turned into our best perimeter defender,” LCSC coach Brian Orr said. “I think that has carried over to the offensive end. She’s making her shots and playing with so much confidence right now.”
The Warriors’ zone defense also came up big. After LCSC allowed 21 points in the first quarter, the Warriors only allowed 29 points in the final 30 minutes.
“I thought our zone was really good tonight,” Orr said. “I know they drove it on us a few times early, but we talked about it and stopped it. I thought our defense was really solid tonight.”
The Bulldogs hit 8-of-16 shots in the opening quarter but went 10-of-34 the rest of the way to finish 18-of-50 from the field for 36 percent. Western also was held to just 4-of-18 from the 3-point line for 22 percent.
LCSC finished the game 25-of-59 from the field, 42.4 percent, and 13-of-24 from the 3-point line, 54.2 percent.
“Hey when you are making 3s life is always good,” Orr said. “We played pretty well offensively and shot the ball well. When you make seven 3s in the first half you put pressure on the other team. I thought we had good ball movement and we have so many shooters out there.
“Really I thought we played extremely well at times tonight.”
The Warriors scored their first 15 points from the 3-point line and grabbed a 23-21 lead after the first quarter. Thanks to a stretch in the second quarter where it forced six turnovers on seven Western possessions, LC was able to take a 35-30 lead at halftime.
The key stretch came late in the third and early fourth quarters when Western scored only one basket and three free throws. That eight minute dry spell allowed LCSC to turn a 43-40 advantage into a 64-45 lead.
Western only scored nine points in both the second and fourth quarters.
“Our defense was outstanding,” Orr said.
Brittany Tackett added 13 points and a game-high seven rebounds for LC, while teammates Natahnee Spencer added 11 points and Hannah Byerly 10. Caelyn Orlandi had seven points to go along with eight assists. In all, LCSC had 20 assists on its 25 baskets.
Anise Palmore led Western with 17 points, while Sierra Higheagle added 16.
The Warriors play their final regular-season home game on Saturday against Rocky Mountain at 5:30 p.m. The team’s two seniors, Byerly and Laurena Plourd, will be honored as part of Senior Night. Any combination of a Warrior win in their final three games or a Carroll loss over four games will give LCSC the outright conference title.
Western plays Saturday at Montana Tech
— Lewis-Clark State Sports Information