George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
The Montana State University-Northern Skylights will look to rebound from their first regular season loss this weekend at the McLaughlin Center in great Falls. After losing to Minot State last Saturday, the Skylights will play two games in Great Falls this weekend, starting tonight when they take on Albertson College at 6 p.m. MSU-N will also play Johnson & Wales University on Saturday at 2 p.m. as part of a four-team jamboree hosted by the University of Great Falls Lady Argos. After starting the season with four impressive victories over the University of Lethbridge, the University of Regina, Fresno Pacific and Minot State, all coming at home, the Skylights struggled offensively in their 62-52 loss to Minot last weekend on the road. The Skylights (4-1) were also very impressive in an exhibition loss to Montana State back on Nov. 1 in Bozeman. In that game, Northern trailed by just four points late in the second half before the Bobcats were able to pull away due to MSU-N foul trouble. The key to Northern's success this year so far has been defense, and timely scoring. The Skylights are holding their early-season opponents to less than 50 percent shooting from the floor, and all four of MSU-N's wins have come against teams that were considered to be highpowered offensively. Junior Stacie Barker has been the catalyst defensively, racking up at least five blocked shots in every game so far. Barker has been a tremendous threat defensively, and she and senior Ashley Trulock have given Northern some added toughness in the paint. On the perimeter, junior guard Kaylee Shaw is Northern's best defender, along with senior reserve Amanda Quartuccio. On offense, the Skylights haven't shot the ball as well as head coach Chris Mouat would like from the outside, but senior Dana Ball, who leads the team in scoring, has been very productive both inside and out. Ball is averaging close to 16 points per game, while Barker and Trulock are chipping in with 10 points apiece. Barker also leads MSU-N in rebounding, one of the Skylight's strong points this season. Senior point guard Becky Sorenson has also picked up her scoring and 3-point shooting from a year ago, and freshmen Taylor Keller and Samm Schermele have given MSU-N some much-needed scoring off the bench. The Skylights' bench has also been a factor this season, as MSU-N is probably deeper than in any other year that Mouat has been at MSU-N. The Skylights are presently in the middle of a five-game road trip. After their two games in Great Falls, MSU-N will return to North Dakota next weekend for a pair of games in Dickinson in a tournament hosted by Dickinson State University. MSU-N will next play at home on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 when it hosts the AmericInn Classic. Tonight's game between MSU-N and Albertson College will tip off at 6 p.m. at the McLaughlin Center in Great Falls. The Skylights' game against Johnson & Wales will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday.