By Ryan Divish
The elusive first win of the season remained out of reach for the Montana State University-Northern women's basketball team. The Skylights fell to 0-5 on the season, losing to the Black Hills State Lady Yellow Jackets 84-68 Friday night in Spearfish, S.D.
BHSU was playing its first game under interim head coach Mark Nore, who replaced coach Kevin Dobbs. Dobbs resigned early last week.
In a show of support for Nore and the team, a large crowd was on hand. Skylights head coach Mike Erickson believes the situation surrounding Dobbs' abrupt resignation fired up the Jackets.
"They came out pretty fired up," Erickson said. "They had a big crowd behind them and they responded to it."
Northern was able to match Black Hills' intensity in the first half, trailing 42-38 at halftime.
"We were definitely in the ball game," Erickson said.
However, with starting guard Anna Bateman fighting through the flu, forward Katie Zilkoski out after injuring her ankle in the first half and Miranda Valley also out with an injury, Northern suffered the effects of playing shorthanded.
"We ran out of gas," Erickson said. "Anna tried to play, but she was pretty tired in the second half. And without Katie we were even more shorthanded."
Northern wilted in the second half as the Yellow Jackets outscored them 42-30. The Skylights were once again plagued by turnovers committing 16 in the game.
Besides the turnovers, the Skylights were also outscored in the paint 40-10.
"We need to work on developing our inside game," Erickson said. "And the turnovers, it's just being young and getting used to knowing where each other are at. Before we learn how to win, we have to learn how to stop beating ourselves."
Black Hills was led by center Joni Lunney with 26 points and eight rebounds. BHSU also got 17 points apiece from Darcy Reinicke and Amanda Mortenson.
Northern was led by Bateman's 16 points while Kristal Lohse, Davina Shoemake and Khadiga Mohamed each scored 10 points in the game.
Despite the slow start, Erickson remains upbeat about his young team.
"They know they're making mistakes," Erickson said. "But they're also listening to us and trying to avoid them. The intensity has been there in practice. We just need to transfer it to the court."
Northern will be in action on Friday as the team travels to Great Falls to take on the University of Mary in the UGF Classic.