By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
Montana State University-Northern women's basketball coach Mike Erickson is glad that this road trip is only once a year. Erickson and the Skylights suffered their second loss of the trip, falling 86-68 to Lewis-Clark State on Saturday night in Lewiston, Idaho.
"It's just nice to get this trip over with and know we don't have to do it again," Erickson said.
While the trip wasn't good in terms of wins or losses, Erickson was pleased the way his team rebounded after a sub-par performance in a loss to Westminster College on Thursday night.
"Our execution was much better," Erickson said. "I was pleased with that. They got up early on us and we came back to make things close."
Indeed, the 15-point difference in the final score doesn't indicate how close the game actually was. The Skylights got to within seven points late in the game, but were then forced to foul. LC made its free throws down the stretch to balloon the lead to 15.
LC hurt Northern in two areas: rebounding and foul shooting. The Warriors crushed the Skylights on the boards, outrebounding them 54-34, including a whopping 23 offensive rebounds.
"We focused on rebounding and knew how important it was," Erickson said. "But they are a good rebounding team. There were a lot of long rebounds off of missed three-pointers and they just outhustled us to the ball."
The free-throw situation was even more distressing. LC made 14 more free throws than Northern attempted. Even with the fouling at the end, the disparity was still a difference maker, Erickson said.
"When you shoot that many free throws and are making them, that makes a huge difference," he said. "They play with a lot of enthusiasm and really feed off their home crowd."
Erickson is just one of the many coaches who won't be sad to see LC move into a new facility next season.
"It's a tough place to play," he said. "The fans are right on top of you and they really get into the game. To win in that place, you really have to play mistake-free to win. We made a good run for about 30 minutes."
LC had four players in double figures, led by Jessica Foot and Ashley Baker with 20 points each. Cami Kalbfleisch added 19 points and 13 rebounds, while BreAnna Mulvey added 15 points and Kendra West chipped in with nine points and 16 rebounds.
Northern was paced by Jessi Reome's game-high 25 points, including seven three-pointers.
"Jessi responded after having an off night against Westminster," Erickson said. "Seven three-pointers in one game is one short of the school record."
Anna Bateman added 12 points and five assists, while Michele VanDyke scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds after playing sparingly against Westminster.
"Michele came out and played very aggressive, which is what we need her to do," Erickson said. "Besides scoring, she made some good passes and grabbed some key rebounds."
While he knows there were opportunities for victory and mistakes that must be fixed, Erickson was very upbeat with his team's performance.
"Overall, I liked how the girls responded from Thursday's game," he said. "We played pretty good, just not good enough to beat them."
With the win, LC moved into a tie for second place in the conference standings with a 5-2 record and 17-6 overall record. Northern fell to 3-4 in conference and 14-10 overall. The Skylights will be in action on Saturday when travel to the University of Great Falls.
Megan Valgardson 1-6 1-2 3, Jesse Reome 9-21 0-0 25, Kristie Pullin 3-6 2-3 9, Anna Bateman 4-12 2-2 12, Brettney Vermandel 2-4 0-0 4, DeLayne Johnson 2-5 0-0 4, Kristal Lohse 0-0 0-0 0, Khadiga Mohamed 0-0 0-0 0, Chasi Buffington 0-3 0-0 0, Jena Heggem 0-2 0-0 0, Sheena Darlington 0-1 0-0 0, Michelle VanDyke 5-10 1-3 11. Totals: 26-70 6-10 68.
LEWIS-CLARK STATE (86)
Cami Kalbfleisch 6-17 4-4 19, BreAnna Mulvey 4-6 6-6 15, Jessica Foot 5-15 6-8 20, Ashley Baker 7-15 6-10 20, Kendra West 4-9 1-2 16, Terri Witmer 0-0 0-0 0, Elise de Groot 1-2 1-2 3, Elpidia Valle 0-2 0-0 0, Leah McCauley 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 27-67 24-32 86.
Halftime: L-C 41, MSUN 34. Three-point goals: MSUN 10-27 (Reome 7-14, Pullin 1-4, Bateman 2-7), L-C 8-27 (Kalbfleisch 3-12, Mulvey 1-2, Foot 4-11). Rebounds: MSUN 34 (Bateman 6), L-C 31 (West 16, Kalbfleisch 13, Baker 10). Assists: MSUN 19 (Bateman 5), L-C 17 (Mulvey 4, West 4). Steals: MSUN 4 (Pullin 2), L-C 7 (Mulvey 3). Turnovers: MSUN 12, L-C 11. Total fouls: MSUN 21, L-C 14. Fouled out: none.