UGF Gets Senior Night Win, First Round Bye - News, Sports and Weather

UGF Gets Senior Night Win, First Round Bye

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– Heading into the night it seemed unlikely, but the (23) Lady Argonauts finished the regular season as Frontier Conference runners-up and clinched a bye in the conference playoffs with a 71-62 win over the favored (12) Lewis-Clark State College Warriors and a MSU-Northern loss. Without the MSUN loss, UGF would have finished tied for second with the Lights who hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.

“Wouldn’t that be sweet,” UGF head coach Bill Himmelberg said at the end of the game, knowing that Tech was currently leading MSUN by 10 in the 3rd quarter. “For us to be about to step up tonight and the way they did, it says a lot about our team. I’m really proud of them.

Not only was the second seed in the conference tournament at stage, but it was also senior night for UGF. Three Lady Argos were honored, including the program’s career leader in points and assists Erin Legel, adding to the emotions of the night.

“It’s unbelievable how much was going on tonight,” Himmelberg said. “Its senior night and the parents were here and then on top of it we have a great team like LC State that won the conference. What a great night.”

Himmelberg’s team did well to avoid the common senior night slump to start the game and after trailing by six points after the first five minutes, they ended the first quarter up by one. That lead didn’t last long, as the Warriors retook the lead and held on to it for a vast majority of the second quarter.

Both teams shot well in the first half. Both hit over 40 percent from the field and exactly 50 percent from three, but the what separated the two, and gave LC State a four points halftime lead, was their 87 percent shooting from the free-throw line to UGF’s 33 percent.

For the first five minutes of the third quarter, LC State hung onto a lead that fluctuated around five points and seemed to be in control to win their third close game of the season against UGF.

A series of defensive stops and a two straight layups from reserve center Kalani Ulufale quickly turned the tides to give the Lady Argos their first lead since a minute into the second quarter. In the moment, Ulufale’s second score certainly brought a shift in momentum but led to a much bigger run than expected. By the 6:43 mark in the fourth quarter the Lady Argo’s slim lead had ballooned to 10 and the team would hold the lead for the rest of the game.

“We defended a lot better tonight than we did in our other games against them,” Himmelberg said. “We executed the game plan to a tee and then we were able to score the ball when we needed to. Everybody contributed something tonight.”

Down the stretch the Lady Argo’s early free throw troubles subsided and in the final seven minutes they converted on 8 of 11 attempts. Those uncontested points carried the team through the final minutes and kept the lead at seven points or higher.

Appropriately, Legel led the team in scoring for her final regular season game of his college career. She finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Legel was one of seven Lady Argos to score at least six points as the team continues feature a thoroughly balanced attack.

The next two leading scorers for UGF were juniors Morgan Grier and Nneka Nnadi. Both responded to relatively quiet first halves with much stronger performances in the second. Grier scored eight of her 11 in the final 20 minutes while Nnadi scored seven of her 10 in that time span.

Another important aspect of the game for the Lady Argos was their superior effort on the glass. No UGF player finished in double digits in the rebounding department but every player contributed to the team’s 47 to 35 rebounding margin over the Warriors. The team’s top rebounder in the game was sophomore guard Stephanie McDonagh who also scored nine points and led the team with three steals.

The Lady Argos finish the season with a 21-9 (12-6) record and a second place regular season finish in the Frontier Conference, the best finish in the program’s modern era. With the second place finish, the team earns one of two first round byes in the conference tournament. They will host their second round game on Saturday March 5 at 7 p.m.

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