The Linn-Benton women’s basketball team is still trying to put it all together.
Luckily for the Roadrunners, the Northwest Athletic Conference South Region is wide open after the top three teams.
LBCC is 2-1 against the bottom of its division and 0-3 versus the elite, including Wednesday night’s 98-61 home loss to Lane. The Roadrunners (7-11, 2-4), who have now dropped four of their last five, will try to turn it around Saturday at Mt. Hood (6-10, 3-3) in Gresham.
The top four South Region teams qualify for March’s NWAC Championships.
“We are losing to the same people all the bottom teams are losing to,” LBCC coach Debbie Herrold said. “It’s just a battle between the rest of the five of us for that fourth spot. We are right there and I think we’ve got as good a chance as anyone.”
The Roadrunners are just one game back of fourth-place Mt. Hood entering Saturday’s matchup. The Saints suffered a 74-52 loss to Lane last Saturday.
LBCC has been terrific in South Region victories over Clark (67-42) and Chemeketa (83-68). In their four losses, the Roadrunners have been outscored by an average of 34 points per game.
“We are towards the last part of the season and I’m still trying to figure out my team and what makes them tick,” Herrold admitted. “The team is very cohesive, they seem to get along well and they like each other. It’s not clear to me (what the issue is), and that’s hard for me. But as a coaching staff, we’re still trying to figure it out.”
Lane (13-5, 5-1), which is just a game back of division leaders Umpqua (19-0, 6-0) and Clackamas (15-3, 6-0), shot 49 percent from the floor and 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Sierra Carrier came off the bench to lead all players with 17 points. Fellow reserve Emma Jones added 15 points as the Titans’ bench outscored LBCC’s 57-14.
Lane also had 32 points off 22 Roadrunners turnovers.
“I thought we competed really well for two and a half quarters,” Herrold said. “We stopped being aggressive on their full-court pressure, they just kept bringing the pressure and we don’t have a lot of guards that can handle the pressure. And eventually, the two guards we have wore down.”
Freshman guard Madeline Oakden led the Roadrunners with 15 points while backcourt mate Courteney Landis had 14 points and five assists. Breanna Bronson recorded a double-double with 14 points and 18 rebounds.
Herrold praised the efforts of Bronson and Landis.
“I thought (Bronson) couldn’t have played any harder than she did,” Herrold said. “Courteney Landis was playing sick and she was the one having to fight the pressure all the time, and she just worked her little heart out. We just didn’t have enough soldiers for the battle.”
The Roadrunners opened the second half on an 8-0 spurt to trim Lane’s 17-point halftime lead to 44-35.
The Titans ratcheted up their full-court pressure to pull away midway through the period, going up 66-40 on consecutive 3-pointers by Emma Jones and Megan Still. The lead was 71-45 heading to the fourth.
Landis tallied seven early points for the Roadrunners, who trailed 17-10 after the opening quarter. Lane closed the period on a 7-0 run and scored the first two baskets of the second to go up double digits at 21-10.
The Titans’ full-court pressure bothered LBCC for portions of the quarter, allowing the visitors to pad their advantage.
Lane led 44-27 at the break.