It’s been a long time since the Montana State University-Northern women’s basketball team has played a game in the friendly confines of the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse.
Tonight, the Skylights will get to remedy that when they take on Frontier Conference rival, the University of Great Falls in a nonconference showdown at 7.
The last time MSU-N (4-6) played a home game was Nov. 6 against Minot State, and in that span Northern was able to win just once on the road. And while beating the Argos (2-6) will be no easy task tonight, Northern head coach Chris Mouat says his team is happy to be playing at home for the next few weeks.
“It seems as though we’ve been on the road forever,” Mouat said. “It was tough at times, we lost some tough games to some good teams, we’ve dealt with some injuries and we’ve been away from Havre a lot. But that schedule makes us a better team and that’s why we want those challenges.
“But we’re excited to be playing at home,” he added. “The kids are looking forward to playing in our gym, in front of our fans. And we’ve got a good stretch of games we can certainly win coming up. So we need to get off on the right foot tonight.”
But getting off on the right foot will be a chore against a UGF team streaking right now. The Argos have won two of their last four games, with their only losses coming to the University of Montana and nationally-ranked Lewis-Clark State. UGF has a young, but talented team led by new head coach Bill Himmelberg and stars in the making like former GFH Bison Kezia Ford and Marissa Skogen, two of UGF’s leading scorers. Freshman Sarah Sciascia has also been playing well for the Argos so far this season.
“They (Argos) are playing very well right now,” Mouat said. “They have a lot of talent, and their starting five can hurt you from every spot on the floor. So they present a lot of challenges for us. They’ve been impressive so far and have played some very good teams. So we know we are going to have our hands full tonight and every time we play them this season.”
The Skylights will also give the Argos a challenge however.
Northern is led by senior guards Taylor Keller and Samm Schermele, two of the top five scorers in the Frontier. But junior guard Laramie Schwenke has also had a strong nonconference season, as has sophomore Jordan Bruursema. And with sharp shooters like Monica Hollowell and Nikole Wilk, the Skylights always have the potential to be an explosive offensive team.
But with three straight home games this week and next, and just six total games left before conference play, including tonight’s game in Havre, Mouat is hoping his team starts to peak in the next two weeks, and that starts tonight against the Argos.
“We just want to come out and play well, get to where we’re playing at a high level,” Mouat said. “UGF is playing well so we need to also. We have got a stretch of home games coming up and we want to make sure we take advantage of that and get a little streak going.”
Tonight’s game between MSU-N and UGF will tip off at 7 in Havre. The Skylights will also host Concordia College of Alberta on Sunday night at 6 p.m.