Playing in their first two games since the suspension of head coach Kevin Emerick, the Montana State University-Northern Skylights and interim head coach Joan Steffen traveled to Arizona for this weekend's Grand Canyon University Invitational Tournament.
Emerick was suspended on Dec. 12. Steffen is taking Emerick's place pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by Emerick in District Court in Havre. Emerick is seeking an injunction to be allowed to finish the season as the Skylights' coach. If the court rules against Emerick, Northern will begin the search for a new head coach. A hearing on the suit is set for Thursday.
The trip was a homecoming of sorts for three Skylights players, Tamecia Watkins, Szudia Bragg and Paula Owens, who are all from Arizona. Also from Arizona is Davina Shoemake, who is redshirting this year.
In the Skylights' two wins at the tournament, Owens and Watkins had 28 points apiece and Bragg had 14.
The Skylights won their game Saturday over Beloit College 80-57 and Sunday's game over Whitman 60-42.
Northern took a 14-point lead into the half in Saturday's game, 35-21, and outscored Beloit 45-36 in the second to come away with the 23-point win.
Owens led with 18 points, followed by Watkins with 13 and Sarah Gaugler with 12. Every Skylights player scored at least four points in the victory.
The Skylights led in all offensive categories, outrebounding Beloit 52-19, leading in assists (18-11), steals (14-8), points off turnovers (21-19), second-chance points (25-5), fast-break points (13-6), and points in the paint (54-12).
The Skylights came out Sunday afternoon strong as well, taking a 30-21 lead into the half. Both teams' scoring was consistent in the second half, as the Skylights scored another 30 points and Whitman scored 21, making the final score 60-42 in favor of the Skylights.
Watkins led the way for the Skylights with 15 points, followed by Owens and Bragg with 10 each.
Northern once again dominated in the paint, outrebounding Whitman 42-20 and leading 36-20 on points in the paint. The Skylights also led 16-3 in second-chance points, 10-6 on fast-break points and 15-9 in steals.
The Skylights and Lights begin conference play Thursday night at home, taking on Westminster College beginning at 6 p.m.