George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Sometimes, there really is no place like home. Playing in their first home game in over a month, the Montana State University-Northern Skylights didn't miss a beat during the first night of the Duck Inn Corporation Classic. Northern jumped on the Lethbridge Pronghorns early, and used a big push in the second half to put the Pronghorns away, 77-42 Tuesday night at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse. The win was MSU-N's second straight, and its first at home since Nov. 9. "It was good playing at home again," MSU-N head coach Chris Mouat said. "It's been a long month. We had a good crowd and it was nice to have the support of our home fans. I felt like we played pretty well in the second half. We have another huge test against Bellhaven and hopefully we'll have that good crowd support again." MSU-N led an upstart and fastpaced Lethbridge team 31-21 at intermission, but Mouat wasn't thrilled with how his team got to that point. The Skylights shot the ball well from the outside, and sophomore Samm Schermele went 6-for-6 in the first half on her way to a game-high 17 points and six rebounds. But MSUN committed 15 of its 22 turnovers in the first 20 minutes, and that allowed Lethbridge to hang around. "Samm (Schermele) got us off to a really good start," Mouat said. "She was aggressive and she went right at their defense. That was really nice to see. "But we turned the ball over way too much in the first half. We missed a lot of open layups and we just fumbled the ball around too much. That was discouraging. But credit our kids. I thought we cleaned a lot of that up in the second half, we played much better the second 20 minutes, and fortunately, we were able to win pretty comfortably." The Skylights did look much better in the second stanza. Northern went on a 22-6 run, sparked by 3-pointers from Schermele, Taylor Keller and Kaylee Shaw. By the 11:02 mark, the Skylights led 53-31 and they never looked back. Schermele led four Skylights in double figures, including 13 points from reserve guard Awilda Hernandez off the bench. Stacie Barker recorded a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 10 boards, and Keller poured in 12 points, including a pair of three's. Defensively, MSU-N forced the Pronghorns into 30 turnovers, and the Skylights out-rebounded Lethbridge 34-21. "I liked our effort tonight," Mouat said. "We set the tone defensively. We've been playing pretty well on that end of the floor for a while now, and it was nice to see that continue against a good, well-coached team. This is the second straight game in which our opponent hasn't had a double-digit scorer, so you have to be happy with that. "I also thought Awilda came in and really sparked us," he added. "That was key because we're going to need her offense more and more. The whole team gave us a great effort tonight, and we're happy to be home and to get this win." MSU-N's (5-7) win over Lethbridge sets up a meeting tonight with a talented Bellhaven team. The Blazers pushed nationally-ranked Carroll College to the limit on Tuesday night before falling to the Saints 66-56. Today's final day of the Duck Inn tournament starts at 3 with Carroll squaring off against Lethbridge. The Skylights and Blazers tip off at 6.