|LEWISTON, Idaho – The reigning Cascade Conference Freshman of the Year wasted little time showing her improvement over the offseason with a career night to help the No. 11 Lewis-Clark State Women’s Basketball team to a 76-51 victory on Thursday. The season-opening win over Whitman is the first under Head Coach Caelyn Orlandi.
Byrd notched an impressive double-double with 18 points, a career-high, and 11 rebounds to help lead the team to a commanding win. The Warrior defense was stellar with 14 steals and nine blocked shots, including five blocks by freshman Darian Herring.
“Tonight was an excellent team win,” Orlandi said. “I thought we rotated extremely well on defense, we battled on the glass and were able to make quick defensive adjustments that allowed us to get steals that turned into points. Our team came out with great intensity to start and kept battling through the entire game. One of our keys to the game was to win the rebounding war and Sitara led the charge with that tonight. Sitara played an all-around wonderful game of basketball and there were so many positives that came from the game. This team knows how to compete, we have great leaders, and they play for each other and I am looking forward to watching us grow this season.”
Orlandi competed for the Warriors for four years in a hall-of-fame career before spending six years beside Brian Orr on the bench. Tonight, the Warrior great earned her first victory as the leader of the program she has been part of for 10 years.
“This school, this sport and this team are so very special to me and to get my first win on this home floor will be something I will never forget,” Orlandi said. “I am so blessed to be able to coach such a fantastic group and can’t thank them enough for all they give every day. I always say that every day you get to play basketball is a good day, but now I get to say every day I get to coach basketball is a good day and I am so glad I get to coach at this school. Go Warriors.”
HOW IT HAPPENED
Byrd scored the first bucket of the season after a steal by Ellie Sander. Callie Stevens and Lindsey Wilson went back-to-back to make it a 6-2 lead, and baskets by Sander and Herring kept the Warriors in front 12-8 at 4:33 in the first. A layup by Herring sparked a run of six, with tallies by Payton Hymas and Stevens, to close out the first 10 minutes with LC ahead 20-12.
The scoring run continued into the second quarter as five straight points by Hymas and a basket by Byrd capped the run at 13 points for a 27-12 advantage. In the span of 90 seconds, Byrd grabbed two boards and scored five points to give the Warriors a 33-20 lead with 2:57 to play in the half. Herring added back-to-back buckets to send LC State to the locker room with a 37-25 advantage at the half.
Wilson and Sander opened the third quarter with baskets to push the lead to 41-25 a minute in, and a triple by Byrd sparked a run of nine to make it a 50-27 contest by 6:21. Grace Beardin cut into a run by the Blues after grabbing an offensive board, and Herring blocked two shots before baskets by Hymas ended the frame with LC in front 58-41.
Herring and Byrd combined for the first six points of the final quarter as the Warriors continued to add on. Back-to-back baskets by Camden Barger gave LC its largest lead of the night, 28 points, in the final two minutes before the Warriors closed out the 76-51 victory.
Byrd led all players with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the second double-double of her career. She was 8-of-10 from the field and had four offensive rebounds. Hymas added 14 points with a team-high five assists, and Herring scored 12 with five blocks. Maddie Holm grabbed eight boards and blocked three shots, and Sander and Ella Nelson each had three steals. The Warriors had 33 points off the bench.
“Payton came in and played with such poise and confidence and got our offense rolling, and Darian came in and played excellent defense and had a great mindset of attacking the basket,” Orlandi added. “33 bench points is fantastic and I know that we have 12 players that can really play some good basketball.”
The Warriors shot .524 as a team and limited Whitman to .258. LC State forced 20 turnovers.
The Warriors host the Twin Rivers Physical Therapy Classic next weekend in the P1FCU Activity Center and will take on Montana Western and Montana Tech. Tickets and streaming packages are on sale now at lcwarriors.com.
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