By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
For the Montana State University women's basketball team, it has been feast or famine when it comes to offensive production as of late.
The deprivation of offense seems to be particularly rough on the road and it continued again on Thursday night as the Skylights fell to the Westminster College Griffins 58-47 at Payne Gymnasium in Salt Lake City.
Northern's road offensive woes continued with another icy shooting performance. The Skylights were colder than the recent arctic weather.
After a slow start, Northern trailed 17-8 after being held scoreless for almost 10 minutes in the first half. Senior guard Anna Bateman rallied Northern with four first-half three-pointers. The Skylights tied the game at 24 on a jumpshot by DeLayne Johnston with 1:44 left in the first half. But it was the last points they scored in the period.
"We just aren't executing offensively," said head coach Mike Erickson "We're just going through the motions on offense. We scored just 11 points in the first 15 minutes and then score 13 in a four-minute span just before halftime. So it's there. We just have to execute more consistently."
If Northern was cold in the first half, the Skylights were downright frigid in the second half, shooting just 33 percent from the field and trailing by as much as 12 points.
Still, the Skylights had their opportunities to win the game, cutting the Westminster lead to three with seven minutes left. But key three-pointers from Emily Johnson and Stephanie Aldred pushed the lead back to 11.
Erickson was pleased with his team defensively as it continues to hold team at or around 60 pointer per game.
"That was our goal at the beginning of the season was to hold teams to 60 points a game, but we can't score more than 60 points in a game," Erickson said. "We've got to be better than that. We started looking for Anna too much and she can't do it by herself."
Bateman was the only Skylight in double figures with a game-high 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists. No other Northern player was close to double figures.
Westminster got 15 points and 10 rebounds from Rebekah Steenblik and 13 from Emily Johnson to improve to 5-1 in the conference. It's the Griffins best start in conference play since joining the Frontier five years ago.
Northern falls to 3-3 in conference and 14-9 overall and will have another hard road game on Saturday against a very good Lewis-Clark State team.
Erickson hasn't given up on his team yet, but said his players have to change their mentality when they're playing on the road.
"It comes down to our mental state and preparation," Erickson said. "We need to play hard and aggressive and let our defense get us on track offensively. We've been very passive when we play on the road and it has to change."
"It's there and we're knocking at the door," he added. "It's just that no one is answering, but that doesn't mean we won't keep knocking."
Northern's game against LC can be heard on 92.5 KPQX-FM at 6 p.m.
Westminster 58, MSU-Northern 47
Delayne Johnston 1-4 0-2 2, Kristie Pullin 2-3 0-0 5, Anna Bateman 6-14 0-0 17, Brettney Vermandel 2-5 1-3 5, Megan Valgardson 1-4 1-1 3, Jessi Reome 2-5 1-2 5, Kristal Lohse 1-1 0-0 2, Khadiga Mohamed 3-6 0-0 6, Chasi Buffington 1-6 0-0 2, Jena Heggem 0-1 0-0 0, Michele VanDyke 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-50 3-8 47.
Stewart 2-4 2-2 7, Aldred 2-3 2-2 7, Johnson 4-9 1-4 13, Fackrell 2-7 2-2 6, Steenblik 7-15 1-4 15, Crump 1-1 0-0 2, Layton 1-2 0-0 3, Barney 2-6 1-2 5. Totals 21-47 9-16 58.
Halftime - Westminster 28, MSUN 24. Three-point goals - MSUN 6-16 (Pullin 1-1, Bateman 5-9, Vermandel 0-2, Reome 0-1, Buffington 0-2, Heggem 0-1). Rebounds - MSU-N 23 (Bateman 8), Westminster 31 (Steenblik 10). Assists - MSU-N 11 (Bateman 4), Westminster 14 (Johnson 4). Total fouls - MSU-N 15, Westminster 13. Fouled out - None. Technical Fouls - Pullin, MSU-N Coach.