By Ryan Divish
Life at the top of the Frontier Conference isn't easy, the Montana State University-Northern women's basketball team found out the hard way - dropping a pair of games this past weekend.
It was the first time since the beginning of the season that Northern lost back-to-back games.
The Skylights ran into one of the hottest teams and the hottest players in the conference Friday night as Montana Tech behind Melissa Ritter defeated Northern, 86-77, in Butte.
Ritter scored a game-high 32 points on 12-16 shooting and was virtually unstoppable down the stretch.
"She just wasn't missing," said Skylights head coach Mike Erickson. "We were hanging on her arms and they were still going in."
Northern led only during the second half but couldn't get enough stops defensively to get back in the game.
"We just gave up too many points," Erickson said. "You're not going to win too many games when you give up 86 points."
Northern had five players finish in double figures, led by Anna Bateman with 15 points and Kristie Pullin with 14.
"It's a game that we should have won," Erickson said. "We certainly had our chances to win. They handled our press much better this time, but still when you give team's confidence at home, they're going to play well."
But things only got worse for the Skylights as they were drubbed, 86-45, by UM-Western on Saturday night in Dillon.
"We just beat ourselves," Erickson said. "It was probably one of the ugliest games I've ever been around. There wasn't one good thing we could pull from that game."
Northern shot a measly 12 percent from the field on 4-32 shooting in the first half. It didn't get much better in the second half as the Skylights finished the game shooting 25 percent from the field.
"I don't know if it was fatigue or what," Erickson said. "I just didn't feel good the whole day about playing them."
Northern had only one player, Khadiga Mohamed, finish in double figures with 14 points. The Skylights' leading scorer Anna Bateman scored 6 points and was hampered by tendonitis in her feet.
Despite the rough weekend, Erickson said his team isn't giving up.
"If we didn't panic in the beginning of the season, we certainly aren't going to now," Erickson said. "Our morale isn't down by any means. It's a good time for a gutcheck.