UGF Women Topple Carroll to Reach Frontier Conference Finals - News, Sports and Weather

UGF Women Topple Carroll to Reach Frontier Conference Finals

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For the first time since 1985, Lady Argo basketball will be playing in the Frontier Conference finals. The (21) Lady Argos defeated (20) Carroll College 57-54 in the semifinals with an opportunist defense and the offensive prowess of Nneka Nnadi and Stephanie McDonagh.

UGF forced 20 turnovers and scored 19 points off of turnovers which helped overcome a rebounding disparity of 46-32. The Lady Argos also hit three crucial 3-pointers in the second half to pull off the win.

Home court advantage played a bit role in the game. It was the third time UGF has hosted the Saints this season and they won both of those. The one time they traveled to Helena, the result came out in Carroll’s favor.

“Getting home court advantage was really big for us. We’ve only lost one game at home all year,” UGF head coach Bill Himmelberg said. “We shoot it well here and we’ve been doing a good job of making it hard for Carroll to shoot the basketball on our court.”

The Warriors made 16 of 62 attempts during their last trip to Great Falls, but they were much better in the first half this time around. They made 40 percent of their shots and got out to a nine point lead by the end of the first quarter.

During the second quarter the Lady Argo’s offense, which scored just seven points in the first, finally got going and outscored Carroll 21-11 to take a one point halftime lead. Three steals from senior guard Erin Legel, and balanced offensive attack that features Nnadi, McDonagh and junior Morgan Grier led the UGF comeback going into the break.

Coming out of the break it was a Legel three and a block from junior center Whitney George that pushed the UGF lead to six.

“In the second half we let our defense ignite our offense a little bit. We got a couple of pressure steals against their guards and that was big,” Himmelberg said. “Carroll is such a good team. They’re so physical and that gives us problems but we got a couple big rebounds down the stretch.”

After holding an eight point lead right before the end of the third quarter, the momentum began to shift away from the Lady Argos. Less than two minutes into the fourth, the Warriors had worked the lead down to two. McDonagh then his huge three to stop the bleeding and the Warriors never got that close again.

“Our defense really carries our offense, so when we get stops and we get steals it really helps our scoring,” McDonagh said. “It’s really exciting. We’ve put in the work all season. We came into the season with a goal and now we’re one win away from reaching it.”

McDonagh finished with 15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. Her 6 for 8 shooting from the free-throw line also gave UGF big points in big moments including two that made it a two score game with two seconds left. 

The team’s leading scorer was junior Nneka Nnadi who finished with 19 points. She and McDonagh helped compensate for a quiet scoring night from the Frontier Conference’s leading scorer Erin Legel. The senior score eight points, marking the eighth time this year she hasn’t scored ten or more. Four of those games have come against Carroll.

The Lady Argos will now move on to the Frontier Conference finals for the first time in the modern era of Argo athletics and for the first time since 1985. They will take on (14) Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho on Tuesday, March 8 at 8 p.m. Mountain Standard Time. The last time the two teams faced, UGF won71-62 inside the McLaughlin Center.

“It’s a totally different style against LC State but the biggest thing is just competing. We have to compete on every possession,” Himmelberg said.

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