Though the season began all the way back in early October, the Montana State University-Northern women’s basketball team had yet to play a fellow NAIA opponent. Over the course of the weekend though, the Skylights played two good ones from the Golden State Athletic Conference.
On Friday night in Great Falls, Northern took down Concordia of California 63-48, then lost to San Diego Christian, 63-54 on Saturday afternoon. The split at the UGF Tournament gives MSU-N a 3-2 overall record heading into another 12-day break.
Against Concordia, the Skylights looked sharp, and certainly, playing the University of Montana back on Tuesday night helped. Northern faced a daunting Concordia full-court press, and the Skylights handled it well. MSU-N committed just 13 turnovers and got some good points in transition.
“I was really pleased with how we handled their (Eagles) pressure,” MSU-N head coach Chris Mouat said. “To only turn the ball over 13 times, with how much they pressed us, that was good. We didn’t shoot terribly well, but we made some shots when we needed them and we took care of the basketball.
“I also thought we had some young kids really grow up in that game,” he added. “Our young guards played really well, our bench gave us good minutes. Maurisha McKissic played a great game. So all-in-all I was pleased as we beat a quality opponent.”
The Skylights led Concordia 38-31 at half, and while the Eagles threatened a few different times in the second, MSU-N played very well the final 20 minutes and wound up winning going away.
McKissic gave the Skylights 10 points and six rebounds off the bench, while Nikki Tresch poured in a game-high 19 points. Kylee Denham added 13 and Jordan Bruursema scored eight.
While it was big to lead Concordia at the half Friday night, the Skylights also held the lead over a strong San Diego Christian team Saturday. MSU-N 27-24, after leading by as much as 13 points in the first 20 minutes. But Mouat said the game got away from his team in the second half.
“We played really well for a good portion of the first half,” Mouat said. “We made some shots, we executed on defense and we took care of the ball. We had a good lead on a 20-win team from a year ago. They are a very quality team. “But in the second half, we really got out-toughed. We starting making some pretty bad mistakes. We went ice cold shooting the ball, and they kept taking it to us.”
Tresch led four Skylights in double figures in the loss, with 16 points. Bruursema and Taylor Cummings each scored 11, while Rachelle Bennett gave MSU-N a lift off the bench with 10 points.
“That’s a tough loss because when you get on a team like that, such a good team that pressures you so much, you really need to finish and we didn’t do that. We let the lead get away from us just before halftime and that just seemed to carry over into the second half,” Mouat said. “But for the most part this weekend, I thought we did a lot of growing up in two real games. Games we really needed. So we’ll learn from these games and great ready to play a very good Carroll team next.”
The Skylights will be off until Nov. 29 when they open Frontier Conference play against Carroll College in Havre.
S.D. Christian 64, Skylights 53
SDC — Alexa Davison 3, Irene Lopez 12, Ashley Mason 6, Chardonnay Shula 7, Heather Serven 19, Teanna Williams 7, Melissa Beatty 4, Arlene Kaleopa 6.
MSU-N — Jordan Bruursema 11, Kylee Dunham 3, Nikki Tresch 16, Taylor Cummings 11, Kassie Barta 2, Rachelle Bennett 10.
Halftime: Northern 27, S.D. Christian 24.
Skylights 63, Concordia 48
CC — Jade Reed 2, Katie Ogdon 6, Ashley Engeln 5, Carly Bishop 4, Melody Chavez 7, Bashalei Almadova 2, Sara Nicholson 3, Carlisha Phillips 8, Camesha Patton 6, Amanda Fielder 5.
MSU-N — Jordan Bruursema 8, Laci Keller 2, Kylee Denham 13, Nikki Tresch 19, Taylor Cummings 6, Kassie Barta 2, Kacie McKeon 3, Maurisha McKissic 10.
Halftime: MSU Northern 38, Concordia 31.