The Dakota Athletic Conference is very good in women’s basketball. And the Montana State University-Northern Skylights are finding that out as of late.
Not that the Skylights didn’t already know as they play one of the most difficult nonconference schedules in the NAIA each year, but after falling to fourth-ranked Black Hills State 61-54 Friday night in Great Falls, MSU-N has now lost four straight games to DAC opponents and three straight on the road.
Northern (3-5) was in Great Falls Friday night to play one game in the Townhouse Inn’s Women’s Basketball Tournament hosted by UGF, and the Skylights fell just short against the powerful Yellowjackets.
"They (BHSU) are very good all the way around," MSU-N head coach Chris Mouat said. "And I felt like we battled hard the whole way. They are one of the better teams we will see all season and we had chances down the stretch. So I'm not at all disappointed with the way our kids fought and played.
And Northern did fight. Trailing most of the way, the Skylights pulled even at 54-54 with just over a minute to play, but the Yellowjackets hit a 3-pointer with :35 left in the game, and that essentially ended MSU-N's rally.
Senior guard Katelynn Lamb was the catalyst for Black Hills, scoring 17 points and grabbing a game-high nine rebounds while dishing out three assists. Lamb was 7-for-12 from the floor with a 3-pointer to her credit, and the Jackets’ outrebounded Northern 38-32, including snagging 13 offensive boards, which turned out to be a big factor in the game.
Still, despite some hot shooting by Black Hills in the first half, the Skylights hung tough. Northern trailed 36-31 at the break and clamped down on BHSU in the second half, holding the Yellowjackets to 29 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes.
But BHSU played some strong defense of its own and with a rebounding edge, never really allowed the Skylights to get over the hump.
MSU-N senior Taylor Keller finished with a game-high 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Fellow senior Samm Schermele added 13 points while Jordan Bruursema and Laramie Schwenke scored five points each. Keller and Schermele each had six rebounds, but as a team, the Skylights shot just 36 percent from the field for the game and made just four 3-pointers.
The Skylights will now travel to Bellingham, Wash., for a pair of exhibition games this weekend against NCAA Division II opponents St. Martins University and Western Washington University. MSU-N doesn’t play again in Havre until Dec. 16 in a nonconference game against UGF.
Black Hills 61, Skylights 54
BHSU — Kristi Ryan 2-9 0-0 6, Keely Krowlikowski 2-10 2-2 6, Janna Schriber 1-4 2-2 5, Jordan Kent 1-4 0-0 2, Katelynn 7-12 2-2 17, Morgan Mines 1-3 0-0 2, Mandy Brumfield 5-6 1-1 12, Bayley Chevron 0-2 0-0 0, Maggie O'Neill 1-5 0-0 2, Natalie Geise 1-1 0-0 2, Courtney Johnson 3-7 1-4 7. Totals 24-63 8-13 61.
MSU-N — Schwenke 2-5 0-0 5, Taylor Keller 9-17 2-3 22, Samm Schermele 4-11 5-5 13, Monica Hallowell 0-6 4-4 4, Nicole Wilk 1-4 0-0 3, Courtney Blume 0-3 2-2 2. Totals 18-50 14-18 54.
Halftime — BHS 36-31. 3-pointers — BHS 5-18 (Ryan 2-7, Schriber 1-4, Lamb 1-2, Brumfield 1-1), MSU 4-16 (Schwenke 1-3, Keller 2-6, Wilk 1-2). Rebounds — BHS 38 (Lamb 9), MSU 32 (Keller 6, Schermele 6). Assists — BHS 11 (Lamb 3), MSU 6 (Schermele2). Fouls — BHS 15, MSU 14. Foul outs — none. Technicals — none.