George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
The Montana State University-Northern women's basketball team is off to a good start in 2007. The Skylights have won their first three games, and they have done it convincing fashion against solid opponents. But tonight in Bozeman, MSU-N will get a true test, and a feel of what it's like to play at the Division I level when the Skylights take the floor against the Montana State Bobcats in an exhibition game for MSU-N. Northern comes into tonight's game with the Bobcats a perfect 3-0 on the season. Last weekend, MSU-N beat two highly thought of opponents in the Coaches vs Cancer Classic in Havre, and the Skylights did it with a smothering defense that included junior Stacie Barker recording 17 blocked shots in two games. Northern's defense was stellar throughout the weekend in wins over the University of Regina and Fresno Pacific University. In those two games, the Skylights only yielded a combined 79 points, and on offense, Northern used a balanced attack to put away both teams comfortably. MSU-N is getting solid offense from Barker and Ashley Trulock on the inside, and Kaylee Shaw, Becky Sorenson and Dana Ball on the perimeter. The Skylights' bench has also been a factor in the early season. Freshmen Taylor Keller and Samm Schermele have both given the Skylights solid offense off the bench and senior Amanda Quartuccio is another reliable defender and a good shooter, who has given Northern solid minutes in reserve. But things will get decidedly more diffi- cult for the Skylights tonight, on both ends of the floor. The Bobcats are predicted to finish third in the Big Sky this season, and last year, head coach Tricia Binford led the team to one of the best turnarounds in school history. The Bobcats have a host of talented players, including 6-4 center Jamie Thornton and 6-1 forward Krislyn Wallace. MSU also has a bevy of talented guards, including junior Brandie Buckless, Jerry Heringer, Rebecca Mercer, Anne Phippard and Erica Perry. This is the season-opener for the Bobcats, and like for MSU-N, the game won't count towards their overall record. MSU lost its first exhibition game last year to Frontier Conference member Carroll College, and the Bobcats went on to struggle early in the season. However, the Bobcats are much more experienced this season, and Northern is certainly the underdog tonight. Tonight's exhibition game in Bozeman between the Skylights and Bobcats will tip off at 5:30 p.m. at the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. The Skylights will return home to face Minot State University on Saturday night.