BUTTE — Just 2.3 seconds were left on the clock when Lewis-Clark State College’s Hailey Turner pulled down a rebound off an attempted game-winning shot from Montana Tech’s Shay Potter.
The Warriors quickly called a timeout and Jansen Edmiston inbounded the ball to Lauren Johnson who tossed the ball back to her, right around 25 feet out.
Edmiston nailed it and the second-ranked Warriors walked off Kelvin Sampson Court with a 78-75 win. The Warrior men took the second game of the doubleheader 75-67.
“Coach said we were going to try to get it near the basket, but the girl wasn’t open and I thought, ‘what am I going to do?’” Emiston said. “I saw Lauren was open, so I passed it to her and my girl left. So I just took two steps in and yelled ‘Lauren, Lauren’ and she just looked at me and pitched it back.
“I knew I had to get it off and it just went in.”
Tech led by as many as 15 points in the game, but went cold during parts of the second half. The Orediggers were outscored by 17 in the final two quarters and struggled to fend off long bouts of pressing by the Warrior defense.
Tech had a lot of success breaking the press in the first half, but Lewis-Clark was able to execute its defense much better in the second.
“I think we let down a little bit,” Oredigger head coach Carly Sanon said. “We were up and I don’t think we came out of halftime the way we needed to. We needed to execute even more than we did in the first half and that comes from being young.
“Their press really hurt us in that third quarter. We had a rough third quarter.”
Mesa Williams led the way for Tech, scoring 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds. She was 5-for-5 from behind the arc on the night and her hot shooting was part of the reason the ‘Diggers took control of the game in the second quarter.
During a five minute and 50 second stretch that spanned the first and second quarters, Tech went on a 19-4 run. Williams and Monica Landdeck combined to shoot 5-of-5 from behind the arc in the first 20 minutes of the game and were a huge part of the ‘Diggers big lead at halftime.
“Down by 14 at the half, on the road and the worst of it was that our defense was horrible,” Lewis-Clark head coach Brian Orr said. “When you’re down like that, my focus goes to execution. We chipped away a little bit. The fact we had an opportunity to win this game, I felt good about that.”
For Tech, it was its second disappointing loss in a row after a setback against Montana Western on Tuesday.
Sanon feels her team is close to a breakthrough.
“There’s a lot of positives to come out of this. We’re a good team but we have to get over that hump,” Sanon said. “We know that we can get these wins. Now we have to get the point where we can beat these teams.”
The Tech men suffered a heartbreaking loss as well. Down by 13 midway through the second half, the Orediggers put together a furious rally to tie the game three different times.
The Warriors’ Andre McCowan, however, was too much to handle. The junior guard scored 34 points on 13-of-19 shooting and was 5-of-7 behind the arc. He had several late shots — including two incredible dunks — to help salt the game away for Lewis-Clark.
“He’s been kind of inconsistent and we weren’t sure if we were going to adjust our game plan to him,” Tech men’s head coach Adam Hiatt said. “We didn’t and he played a heckuva game. Anytime they needed a basket, when the wheels were wobbly for them, he made big shots.”
John Chapman had 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting for the ‘Diggers. Nick Fitts had 12, with all his makes coming from behind the arc.
“It’s a tough loss,” Hiatt said. “We had a great defensive effort… if we can grow up a little bit, I think we can be a great team.”
Tech's men head to Billings on Wednesday for an exhibition game against MSU-Billings. The Orediggers women resume play on Dec. 28 against the University of Calgary.