The end of the first-ever Duck Inn/JDRF Classic was much better than the middle for the Montana State University-Northern women’s basketball team.
The Skylights rebounded from their first loss of the season, a setback to Northwest University on Friday night, with a dominating 82-45 win over LaSierra College on Saturday night at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse.
In three games at home this weekend, the Skylights went 2-1 to open the season.
Northern’s win over LaSierra on Saturday night didn’t come without a little bit of a slow start and much better play from the Eagles the second time around. But once the Skylights turned it on, they never looked back.
After the Eagles hung tough from the 3-point-line, the Skylights got a three from Monica Hollowell to lead 15-13, and they never trailed again. Northern closed out the first half on a 27-5 run, while senior Taylor Keller had the hot hand in the second half as MSU-N won going away. Keller poured in a game-high 26 points on a 10-of-12 shooting performance.
“LaSierra came out with a lot of energy and we knew they would,” Northern head coach Chris Mouat said. “They played much better tonight than they did on Thursday and they play with a lot of effort, and I see them getting better as the season goes on.
“For us, I think we started the game still feeling the effects of last night (Friday),” he added. "It took us a while to get going, to put that game in the past. But we did dig ourselves out of an early hole, and after that we played pretty well. We executed much better. So it was good that we responded to some adversity positively. We needed that.”
Northern was also without senior guard Samm Schermele on Saturday night after she got banged up in Friday’s loss to Northwest. But junior Courtney Blume certainly picked up the slack, scoring 18 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
Northern’s first loss of the season came ahead of the Skylights’ win on Saturday night as Northwest rode a brilliant shooting performance by Emily Drivstuen to a 86-77 win. Drivstuen scored a game-high 28 points and nailed six treys as the Eagles broke open a close first half with a three at the 1:11 mark to lead 41-33 at intermission.
Northwest continued to shoot the ball at a high clip in the second stanza and led 61-45 with under 11 minutes left in the game.
“We didn’t execute anything that we prepared to do against them (Golden Eagles) at any point in the game,” Mouat said. “We just didn’t execute on defense and that’s unacceptable and that was a big difference in the game.
“Credit to them though,” he added. “They are a solid team and we knew that coming in, and they got a great shooting performance from a very good player. She really hurt us.”
Although MSU-N was way down in the second half, the Skylights did fight back. Behind 11 points in the final six minutes from Taylor Keller, this Skylights pulled to within six points at 83-77 with under two minutes to play. But a few missed free throws and a big score by Domi Mendezona helped the Golden Eagles of the Cascade Conference hang on for the win.
“I was pleased with the way we were able to claw back in the game,” Mouat said. “Very proud of our kids for continuing to fight. But going forward, we just have to execute better, because we can’t allow ourselves to get into that deep of a hole.”
Keller and Schermele were superb in a losing effort. Keller scored 27 points and hit two three’s while Schermele added 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting and a perfect stretch from the foul line. Hollowell was also on fire, scoring 18 points.
MSU-N will remain at home this weekend to face Dickinson State and Minot State.
Northwest 86, Skylights 77
NW — Kia Gibson 4-9 4-5 12, McKenzie McKean 2-5 2-6 6, Brittney Marshall 0-2 0-2 0, Emily Drivstuen 10-14 4-4 28, Alyssa Welk 1-3 0-0 2, Erika Hornyak 0-1 2-4 2, Ebany Herd 2-2 0-0 5, Domi Mendezona 3-6 0-0 8, Jessalyn Jackson 5-5 8-10 18, Marielle McKean 2-4 0-0 5. Totals 29-51 20-31 86.
MSU-N — Jordan Bruursema 0-2 2-4 2, Courtney Blume 0-3 0-0 0, Laramie Schwenke 1-5 3-4 5, Taylor Keller 8-12 9-12 27, Samm Schermele 7-10 7-7 22, Kylee Denham 0-0 1-2 1, Valerie Gee 0-2 0-0 0, Nicole Wilk 0-1 2-2 2, Monica Hollowell 3-6 10-10 18, Stren Tramelli 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 19-43 34-41 77.
Skylights 82, LaSierra 45
LU — Natalia Hawthorne 3-13 2-2 10, Victoria Loew 4-9 3-4 13, Ashley Baumgaartel 4-5 0-0 8, Megan Robbins 1-5 0-0 3, Evie Purdom 3-7 0-0 7, Jordan Jones 2-11 0-0 4. Totals: 17-62 5-6 45.
MSU-N — Jordan Bruursema 3-9 0-1 6, Courtney Blume 8-13 2-5 18, Laramie Schwenke 0-2 0-0 0, Taylor Keller 10-12 5-5 26, Monica Hollowell 2-6 4-6 9, Kylee Denham 1-3 0-0 2, Valerie Gee 2-3 0-0 4, Nicole Wilk 4-7 0-0 9, Stren Tramelli 4-7 0-0 8. Totals: 34-62 11-18 82.