LCSC Advances To National Championship Game

BILLINGS, Mont. - The LCSC women's basketball team has made it further than any team in school-history, advancing to the NAIA National Championship game with a 65-41 win over Vanguard.

The Warriors will face Oklahoma City in the championship game streamed by ESPN 3 tomorrow at 6:02 p.m. The Stars defeated Campbellsville 87-78 in the semifinal right before.

With the win, LCSC adds to their school record with 35 on the year.

Four players scored in double-figures. Brooke Litalien led with 13. Jossilyn Blackman added 12.  Brittany Tackett and Hailey Turner scored 10 apiece.

LCSC held Vanguard to 23.4 percent shooting from the floor, the second lowest the Warriors have allowed all season. Their lowest field goal percentage in a game by an opponent was 23.1 against Southern Oregon in November. They also held the Lions to 41 points, 33 below their season average. The Warriors shot 46.7 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc.

Vanguard scored the opening bucket of the game, a 3-pointer by Hanna Tabron. The Lions added a field goal for a 5-0 lead.

Then the Warriors went on a 15-1 run to take the 15-6 lead. Tackett score six points during the run. Four others scored as the Warriors spread the points around. LCSC held a 19-12 lead after the first 10 minutes.

"We truly expected a battle from beginning to end," Head Coach Brian Or said. "Not taking anything against Vanguard, but hey, our girls were ready from the very beginning. They missed shots to begin with and we hit shots to begin with and all the sudden we had the momentum. But hey, right here, Cailyn Orlandi leads our fast break and I thought that part of our game was dominant all game long."

In the second quarter, the Warriors went on another huge run, this time 13-2 to increase their lead to 18 at 32-14. The Lions added six points towards the end of the half but LCSC still held a huge advantage, 34-20.

Another 13-2 run started the third quarter. The run was capped by a jumper from Blackman to give the Warriors a 49-23 advantage with 4:09 left on the third quarter clock. The Warriors pushed their lead to its largest of the game at 34 when Jansen Edminston hit a trey with 6:18 remaining in the game.

Caelyn Orlandi led the Warriors with a career-high 12 assists. The all-time assists leader at LCSC was held to a season-low three points in the game. Orlandi averaged 22.5 during the season but didn't let the low scoring night get to her.

"I like to think of myself as kind of like a 'need me' player," Orlandi said to NAIA's Alan Grosbach. "If you need me to score, I'll try and do that for you, if you need me to pass, I'll pass for you. I love playing that role on our team and when my teammates are knocking them down like that it makes me happy to see them so excited."