By Jason Shoot
After snapping a five-game losing streak with a convincing win at Great Falls Monday, the Montana State University-Northern men's basketball team will try to continue that trend when it faces Montana Tech tonight at 8 p.m. at Northern Gym.
The Lights will have little time to recuperate, however, because Western Montana pays a visit Saturday, also at 8 p.m.
Montana Tech (1-3, 8-12) is dead last in the Frontier Conference offensively, averaging a meager 65.3 points per game.
Northern, on the other hand, is first in the conference at 82.2 points a game.
The Orediggers get much of their production from forward Jaiger Allen, who is second in the conference with 8.3 rebounds per contest. Teammate Glen McCloud is third in the Frontier in three-point shooting, averaging 42.3 percent.
David Sawyer, a 6-foot-7 forward, has provided dominant at play at times this season for Northern. He is averaging team-high totals of 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks a game.
Northern forward Keith Carothers is averaging 14 points and 3.3 assists per game.
Josh Hays, a 6-6 forward for Northern, leads the Frontier in field goal percentage at 65.1 percent.
Western Montana (2-2, 9-10) is third in the Frontier offensively with 80.4 points a game.
The Bulldogs are led by 6-1 guard Mitch Montgomery, who has lit up conference competition with 21.2 points a game second-best in the Frontier.
Brad Willden provides Western Montana with a strong inside presence. Willden is averaging 17.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals a game.
Western Montana is third in the Frontier in overall field goal percentage at 46.4 percent and second in free throw percentage at 73.9 percent.
Northern is fourth (46.3 percent) and last (63.9) in each of those respective categories.
The Montana State University-Northern women will get a crack at Montana Tech tonight at Northern Gym at 6 p.m., but the Skylights should be excused if they're a little anxious to leap ahead a couple days.
Western Montana, which is ranked 16th in the latest NAIA poll, visits the No. 20 Skylights Saturday at 6 p.m.
Northern (1-2, 14-4) and Western Montana (2-2, 13-4) are very similar teams.
The Skylights average 80.7 points a game and are making 45.9 percent of their shots from the floor.
The Bulldogs are averaging 78.4 points a game and are making 46.1 percent of their shots from the field.
Rebekah Steenbilk, a 5-foot-10 center, leads Western Montana with 14.8 points a game, fourth-best in the Frontier. She is also second in free-throw shooting (81.8 percent) fourth in rebounding (7.2 per game) and eighth in field goal percentage (49.7).
Northern forward Lana Quintyne, a 5-11 junior, still leads the Frontier in points per game with 20.3 and is third in the conference in field goal percentage at 56.7 percent.
Davina Shoemake, a 5-5 junior guard, sets the tone for the Skylights. She is second in the Frontier in assists with 4.8 a game and third in three-point shooting at 47.1 percent.
Before Northern gets too fired up for Saturday, the Skylights must take care of business tonight.
Montana Tech has been unable to put together a solid string of games this season. The Orediggers are in the bottom half of the league in every major statistical category.
Tech averages 61.2 points a game and is allowing 75.4.
The Orediggers are sizth in the Frontier in rebounding (41.3), sixth in field goal percentage (36.5), seventh in free throw percentage (66.2) and fifth in three-point shooting (28.5).