George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
As far as early-season tests go, the Montana State University-Northern women’s basketball team got to see both sides of the coin this weekend. At the Townhouse Invitational hosted by the University of Great Falls, the Skylights dropped their opener to a stellar College of Idaho team on Friday, but rebounded to trounce Johnson and Wales University on Saturday afternoon at the McLaughlin Center in Great Falls. On Friday night, the Skylights did something they haven’t done much of this season, and that’s fall well behind a team who likes to score points in a hurry. The Skylights dug themselves a 44-27 halftime deficit against the College of Idaho, mainly off of a gaudy 27 first-half turnovers. Northern did rally in the second half, but came up short, suffering its second loss of the season, 75-62. “It was one of those situations where they (Albertson) are very good at what they do,” MSU-N head coach Chris Mouat said. “They are relentless with their pressure and when we started turning the ball over in the first half, I think it gave them even more confidence, and then they really came after us. “But I also told our kids after the game that I was really proud of the way they stayed in it and fought back,” he added. “At one point, we cut the lead all the way down to five points, and in that situation, alot of teams would have folded their tent up. But our kids really came out and fought their way back into the game. Unfortunately, I think we just fell too far behind in the first half to come all the way back.” Northern’s premier post players, Ashley Truclock and Stacie Barker, paced the Skylights in the loss. Trulock scored a team-high 14 points, while Barker chipped in with 12 points and nine rebounds. Samm Schermele gave MSU-N seven points off the bench. “It was a tough loss for us,” Mouat said. “We obviously felt like we could have played much better. I mean 27 turnovers in the first half, that’s very poor. But I think as long as our kids learn something from losing to a very solid team like that, the game will eventually go a long way for us.” And despite the loss, it didn’t take the Skylights long to rebound as they whipped Johnson and Wales University, 81-29 on Saturday. MSU-N stymied Johnson and Wales, holding them to just three points in the second half. Northern led 46-26 at halftime, and then took complete control of the game from the defensive end in the final 20 minutes of the contest. “Well, we felt like they played pretty well against UGF on Friday,” Mouat said. “So we weren’t taking them for granted at all. It was nice to see our kids respond to Friday night’s loss and play so well. And any time you hold a team to three points in a half, you’re playing pretty good basketball.” Trulock had a monstrous outing for MSU-N, scoring 23 points and pulling down 10 rebounds, while Barker added 10 points, 11 boards and another nine blocked shots. The Skylights also got 13 points form Kaylee Shaw, 11 from Schermele and another 10 from Ball in the blowout victory. With the weekend split, MSU-N improved its overall record to 5-2. Northern will go back on the road this weekend, participating in a tournament at Dickinson State University on Friday and Saturday.