BILLINGS – Lewis-Clark State head coach Brian Orr believes his team should have been invited to last year’s NAIA Women’s Basketball Championships, so this year’s Warriors are making up for it.
L-C State beat LSU-Alexandria 69-66 Friday morning inside Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark, as the Generals last-second, game-tying 3-point attempt missed, pushing the Warriors into Saturday’s national quarterfinals.
“Last year, we really felt we got slighted,” Orr said. “We came back this year with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder – that’s how our seniors looked at it. What we tried to do all year is look for that chip, and I think when we came here, that’s what we’ve been doing.”
Both teams earned first-round upsets based on seeding, making the No. 6-seed Warriors technically the favorite against the No. 7 Generals Friday, but LSU-Alexandria looked like the better team in the first half, taking a 37-31 lead into the break.
L-C State came out firing in the third quarter, turning a six-point deficit into a five-point lead by the 2:59 mark. Alexandria fought back to take a 62-61 lead with 4:15 to play, but the Warriors responded with six straight points to go back up five.
The Generals cut the deficit to three and had a chance to tie on the final possession, but Courtney Dawsey was forced into an off-balance 3 that missed wide right as time expired.
Jossliyn Blackman led LC State with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while three others scored in double figures. Kelsey Thaxton led everyone with 22 points for Alexandria.
The Warriors advanced to the national title game in 2017, the first year the tournament was held in Billings, and believe they can repeat that success this year, despite their seed.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve been here and a one gets beat by an eight,” Orr said. “It seems like it happens every year, that someone is going to pull off a big upset. Honestly, I don’t think seed matters – it’s all about matchups – and both teams for us have been pretty good matchups.”
“I think honestly some teams come to play, come to win, other teams struggle,” Blackman added. “It just kind of depends. I think anything can happen here, and we’ll see what happens from now.”
The road gets as tough as it can Saturday, as L-C State will take on No. 1 Freed-Hardeman (33-2) in the first quarterfinal at 2 p.m.