Warriors surprise Statesmen in opener

Hailey Turner

BILLINGS, Mont. — The Lewis-Clark State women’s basketball team must really enjoy playing at Rimrock Arena.

It’s where the Warriors made their run to the 2017 NAIA finals.

And it’s where the Warriors enjoyed more magic in their first time back at the arena since losing in the NAIA title game two years ago.

Seeded sixth in its bracket at Nationals, L-C upset third-seeded William Penn on Wednesday in the opening round of the NAIA tournament behind 13 points from Hailey Turner and 12 points from Abbie Johnson. L-C won 64-58.

The Warriors will move on to face LSU Alexandria on Friday at 9:45 a.m. PDT.

William Penn finished its year at 30-3.

“When you win 30 games, you would expect to be seeded higher, so I am sure they came in with a chip on their shoulder,” Warriors coach Brian Orr said of the Statesmen, who had their 13-game winning streak snapped.

With the win, the Warriors improved to 21-11 on the year — and just as notably, 5-1 at Rimrock at Nationals (with two of those victories over William Penn).

“We had a lot of players step up and make big plays all game,” Orr said of his squad, which outscored William Penn 22-3 in bench points. “It was definitely a team win.”

The top-heavy Statesmen got 22 points from leading scorer Vashti Nwagbaraocha — who took until the second quarter to get things going — but the school from Oskaloosa, Iowa, trailed all game until there were about five minutes left.

That’s when Brenda Pennington hit a drive to give the Statesmen their first lead, at 55-53, before the Warriors evened things up.

William Penn also got 14 points from Kate Ylitalo and 12 from Pennington, who pushed her team back in front down the stretch with her second 3-pointer of the game with 3:12 left. But that was the Statesmen’s last field goal of the contest.

About a minute after the Statesmen took a 58-55 lead on Pennington’s deep heave, L-C’s Johnson hit a runner to pull the Warriors within a point.

And the Warriors scored their go-ahead points in somewhat anticlimatic fashion. Turner was fouled on a defensive rebound with 1:46 left and hit both of her freebies on a one-and-one to push L-C ahead by the score of 59-58.

The Warriors went 15-for-17 from the line and hit 5 of 7 over the game’s final two minutes to put the finishing touches on the win.

With 36 seconds left, L-C’s Cali Moscrip split her one-and-one to give the Warriors a two-point lead.

And after the Statesmen missed a 3-pointer on their next possession, L-C’s Johnson secured the defensive rebound and needed to hit both of her bonus shots after drawing a foul to make it a two-possession game.

With 21 seconds left, Johnson did just that to put the Statesmen back on their heels — par for the course in this contest.

“It really helped that we got off to a great start,” Orr said of his team, which opened the game with an 8-0 run over the first 1:47.

In addition to their scoring leaders, the Warriors also got eight points apiece from Jamie Nielson and Peyton Souvenir, each of whom scored buckets for the Warriors at key moments.

When William Penn pulled within a point early in the fourth quarter, Turner scored a pair of free throws before Souvenir hit a 12-foot runner to give the Warriors a five-point lead with 6:55 left.

L-C’s Nielson finished the first half with a personal 5-0 run, hitting a left-wing 3-pointer with under 30 seconds left before nailing a buzzer-beater at intermission to give L-C a seven-point lead not long after it had clung to a one-shot advantage.

Souvenir led the Warriors with nine assists.

LEWIS-CLARK STATE (21-11)

Blackman 1-7 2-2 4, Burland 1-5 5-6 7, Johnson 4-8 3-3 12, Moscrip 2-7 1-2 6, Turner 4-13 4-4 13, Banks 0-1 0-0 0, Burlage 1-1 0-0 3, Farmer 1-2 0-0 3, Nielson 3-4 0-0 8, Souvenir 3-8 0-0 8. Totals 20-56 15-17 64.

WILLIAM PENN (30-3)

Nwagbaraocha 7-12 8-8 22, Oliver 2-7 0-0 6, Pennington 4-16 2-5 12, Santi 0-3 1-2 1, Yilato 5-13 1-1 14, Pezley 1-6 0-0 3, Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Voigt 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-57 12-16 58.

Lewis-Clark State 16 17 16 15—64

William Penn 12 14 18 14—58

Three-point goals — L-C 9-29 (Blackman 0-1, Burland 0-4, Johnson 1-3, Moscrip 1-5, Turner 1-3, Banks 0-1, Burlage 1-1, Farmer 1-2, Nielson 2-3, Souvenir 2-6), William Penn 8-30 (Oliver 2-3, Pennington 2-8, Santi 0-3, Yilato 3-10, Pezley 1-6). Rebounds — L-C 38 (Blackman 9), William Penn 39 (Nwagbaraocha 11). Assists — L-C 17 (Souvenir 9), William Penn 14 (Santi 5). Fouls — L-C 16, William Penn 15. Fouled out — Yilato. Technicals — none.

WEDNESDAY

Lewis-Clark State 64, William Penn 58

FRIDAY

LCSC vs. LSU Alexandria, 9:45 a.m. PDT

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