Havre Daily News Sports Editor
It wasn't perfect. In fact, if you ask new Montana State University-Northern women's basketball coach Chris Mouat, it was far from perfect.
Nevertheless, the MSU-N Skylights opened their regular season with a resounding 77-39 win over Thompson Rivers University Sunday afternoon at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse.
“I was pleased with how we started both halves of the game,” Mouat said. “I thought the first five minutes of each half were really positive.
“But I also saw a lot of things we need to work on,” he added. “There are a lot of things we need to get cleaned up and we will.”
Despite the lopsided score, Mouat didn't like the fact that the Skylights turned the ball over 20 times. On the positive side of things, the Skylights were efficient on offense and extremely balanced, with four players scoring in double figures.
Two of those players were non-starters. DeLayne Johnston came off the bench to lead Northern with a game-high 16 points. She also paced the Skylights' rebounding efforts with eight boards. Ashley Trulock also gave Northern a boost off of the bench with 10 points and three rebounds.
“I was really happy with that,” Mouat said of Johnston and Trulock's efforts. “We need those two to come in and help us and give us an inside presence, and they both played very well.
“It is always a good sign when you can go to your bench and not lose anything,” he added.
The outcome of Sunday's game was never in doubt. The Skylights jumped all over the Wolfpack from the get-go with a menacing full-court press. Northern went on scoring runs of 10-0 and 8-0 in the first half and held a commanding 35-20 halftime advantage over the team from Kamloops, B.C.
“I thought we didn't play perfect on offense or defense today,” Mouat said. “But in the first half we came out with our full-court pressure and took control of the tempo of the game. That really worked to our advantage.”
The Skylights also continued to force the Wolfpack into turnovers, and they mostly capitalized on those opportunities. Northern outscored Thompson Rivers 42-19 in the final 20 minutes of the game. Overall, they forced the Wolfpack into 33 turnovers.
“I thought our physical effort was very good today, and that is what I wanted to see from our team,” Mouat said. “The kids played very hard and really got after them on the defensive end.
“It is the mental aspect of our play that we need to clean up, and we can do that,” he added. “But I'm real pleased to get this win. It is a nice way to open the season.”
The Skylights also got 11 points apiece from starters Michelle VanDyke and Chelsie Searle. Jaci Heny also chipped in with eight points, as did Camille Griffin. It was Griffin's first game in more than a year, after she missed last season with an injury.
The Wolfpack was led by Rebekka Miltimore with a team-high 11 points and six rebounds. Aside from the 33 turnovers, the Wolfpack were also out-rebounded by the Skylights, 40-28.
The Skylights (1-0) will be back in action on Oct. 29-30 when they host the University of Lethbridge.
Skylights 77, Wolfpack 39
Thompson Rivers University 20 19- 39
MSU-N 35 42 - 77
Thompson Rivers University (0-2) - Kali Ellis 1-4 0-0 2, Kelly O'Grady 1-7 2-3 4, Tami MacKinnon 4-7 1-4 9, Rebekka Miltimore 4-10 3-4 11, Sarah Cameron 1-5 4-6 7, Kristi Spelay 1-3 0-0 2, Sarah Darley 0-1 2-2 2. Totals: 13-42 12-19 39.
MSU-N (1-0) - Jayla McPherson 2-9 1-2 5, Michele VanDyke 3-5 5-8 11, Camille Gardner 1-6 2-2 4, Chelsie Searle 4-5 0-0 11, Jaci Heny 3-8 2-2 8, Ashlie Griffin 3-4 1-2 8, DeLayne Johnston 6-12 4-4 16, Jena Heggem 1-2 1-2 4, Ashley Trulock 5-7 0-1 10. Totals: 28-59 16-25 77.
Skylights 84, Skylights Alumni 57
MSU-N Alumni 31 26 - 57
MSU-N 45 39 - 84
Alumni - Kim Finn 4, Kelly Robbins 0, Kari Filius 9, Dani Holgate 16, Kelsy Burgmaier 13, Anna Bateman 6, Kelly Mazurkiewicz 2, Mandy Carroll 2. Totals: 20-59 8-10 57.
MSU-N - Jayla McPherson 6, Michele VanDyke 13, Chelsie Searle 11, Jaci Heny 21, Ashlie Griffin 7, deLayne Johnston 12, Jena Heggem 5, Ashley Trulock 9. Totals: 33-77 10-13 84.
Lights 113, Lights Alumni 56
MSU-N Alumni 23 33 - 56
MSU-N 57 56 - 113
MSU-N Alumni - Richie Willis 10, Deon Jones 0, Art Krueger 2, Buck Meriwether 0, Shawn Wetzel 16, Colby Fetter 5, Andrew Sellers 7, Rick Brown 7, Charlie Ereaux 9. Totals: 19-64 9-14 56.
MSU-N - Marcus Wilson 8, Yanif Ducreay 16, Jordan Mathews 23, Cory Brothers 12, Brian Erickson 2, Nick Hittner 7, Leo Bullchild 2, Cody Gillespie 11, Ronnie Simpson 17, Adrian Nelson 4, Pathe Yatera 11. Totals: 46-76 13-15 113.