HELENA, Mont. – Six clutch free throws in the final minute by Callie Stevens helped seal the victory for No. 10 LC State in Saturday’s 78-72 win over No. 18 Providence (Mont.). The Argos erased a 14-point Warrior lead, but 17 points from Sitara Byrd helped hold off the push to give LC its fourth win of the season.
In all, five Warriors scored in double-figures.
“I am very proud of the way our team competed tonight,” Head Coach Caelyn Orlandi said. “They found a way to get stops when we needed them. Sitara had a great game with big rebounds and attacked the basket so well. Ellie (Sander) ran the floor hard in transition and made big baskets when we needed them, Callie was excellent at the free throw line and Darian (Herring) came in and gave us tremendous minutes.”
With the win, the Warriors are 4-1 on the season heading into Cascade Conference play on Thursday. LC State will host Northwest and Evergreen State in the P1FCU Activity Center next week.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Byrd scored the first basket of the contest, and baskets by Stevens, Byrd and Payton Hymas kept the score close throughout the quarter. Ella Nelson gave the Warriors a 14-13 lead with 90 seconds to play in the frame, and Darian Herring made it 16-15 at 1:15.
Nelson drained a 3 in the closing seconds, but a buzzer-beater had Providence up 20-19 at the end of the opening frame.
Hymas kept the Warriors within one, 22-21, with a jumper a minute in before Herring added a basket of her own. The freshman grabbed a steal and dished to Hymas to give LC a 25-22 advantage at 7:50. Maddie Holm made it a 10-point run and 29-22 lead by the six-minute mark.
A jumper by Holm on an assist by Stevens pushed the margin to 31-26, and Holm assisted Herring 30 seconds later. Ellie Sander nailed a 3-pointer to make it a 10-point difference, 36-26, with 2:29 to play in the half. Sander and Byrd each found the basket in the final two minutes to send the Warriors into the break with a 40-32 lead.
Holm dropped in a layup for the first basket of the second half to push the difference back to 10 points a minute into the frame. A three-point play by Stevens had the advantage at 45-36 at 6:17. Holm netted a triple and Lindsey Wilson scored to make it eight straight LC State points to push the lead to 50-36 midway through the quarter.
Providence rallied for 11 points to pull within three, 50-47, with 24 seconds on the clock, but a basket by Herring pushed the Warrior lead back out to 52-48 with an assist from Hymas to close out the frame.
The Argos threatened early in the final quarter, but a triple by Byrd was followed by a steal and layup by Stevens to give the Warriors a 57-49 cushion by 8:28. Byrd tallied back-to-back baskets to maintain the edge, and Sander fought her way to the basket at 4:47 to make it 63-57.
Sander added a 3-pointer and free throws to fight off a UP surge and a jumper by Byrd pushed the Warriors to 70 points, 70-62, with 2:46 remaining in the game. A quick pass by Sander fed into a basket by Holm but the Argos kept pace to stay within three, 72-69 in the final minute. Six foul shots by Stevens sealed the 78-72 victory for LC State.
Byrd led the Warriors with 17 points and six rebounds. Stevens scored 13 points on a 7-for-7 performance from the free throw line, and Sander added 12 points. Holm (11 points) and Herring (10 points) joined the group with double-digit totals.
A full breakdown of stats will be available at a later time.
“Maddie was so tough on the boards, Ella came in and made great things happen for us, and Payton did wonderful setting up our offense,” Orlandi added. “I was so impressed with our mental toughness this weekend and how we battled together as a team. I am looking forward to our first conference games next week.”
The Warriors open Cascade Conference play on Nov. 30 when they host Northwest. Tip off is set for 5 p.m. in the P1FCU Activity Center.
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