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Skylights drop pair of games at Frontier Tipoff tourney


Montana State University-Northern women's basketball coach Mike Erickson and his team went into this weekend's Frontier Conference Tipoff Tournament looking forward to some tough games against some conference foes.

Instead, the Skylights ran into a glorified free-throw contest on Friday night and couldn't quite come out of their doldrums on Saturday until it was too late, leading to a pair of losses to Carroll College and UM-Western on the weekend.

On Friday night, Carroll edged Northern in what at times resembled a basketball game but more often looked like a free-throw contest between the two teams. It was a contest that Carroll won and it ultimately prevailed in the game, 89-77.

In all, there were 59 fouls called on both teams with the teams combining to attempt 76 free throws. Carroll sank 30 of 39 free throws, while the Skylights struggled from the charity stripe, making 23 of 37.

"It was unreal," Erickson said. "It took us out of any type of rhythm. There was seven consecutive trips down the court where we had a foul called on us. It got to the point where we didn't know how to defend anymore because we didn't know what would be called a foul."

Northern went in trying to shut down Carroll's shooters and take away the three-point shot, and for the most part the Skylights did. The Saints made only five from behind the three-point line, but they made plenty from the foul line. Senior Tara Zoanni scored a game-high 33 points thanks mainly to an 18-20 performance from the free-throw line.

"We took away their three-point shooting, but they started beating us on the penetration," Erickson said. "When we didn't foul them, they hit the shot."

Still, the Skylights had their opportunities. Northern was down just three with a minute to play in the first half. However, a couple of breakdowns led to some easy baskets as Carroll went up 10, 44-34 at halftime.

"We had about 10 or 12 really bad possessions defensively where we let them score some easy baskets," Erickson said. "We can't do that against good teams."

Northern still had an outside chance late in the game but technical fouls on Erickson and Kristie Pullin were costly and Carroll's Andrea Hall sank a backbreaking three-pointer with three minutes left in the game.

Jessi Reome and Khadiga Mohamed led Northern with 16 points each, while Megan Valgardson had 15 points and Anna Bateman chipped in with 11.

"Carroll did a good job of taking our shooters out of the game," Erickson said. "And we didn't hit the shots we needed to down the stretch to win. I was happy with the intensity the girls played with. They played really hard the entire game."

The same could not be said on Saturday. The Skylights never seemed to shake off the previous night's emotionally charged contest. Northern came out flatter than a $2 spare tire as UM-Western jumped out to a big lead early, grabbing a 42-35 halftime lead.

Still, the Skylights showed a little moxie after the slow start, making a furious rally late in the game to pull within three points with less than three minutes left.

"We let Western make too many easy baskets and grab the momentum for the first 30 minutes," Erickson said. "We finally started playing in the last 10 minutes."

However, Northern expended so much energy getting back into the game, they couldn't quite overcome the deficit.

"We're not polished enough as a team to get down like that," Erickson said. "The first 30 minutes was just a total lack of effort and mental preparation."

He pointed to Western's 22 offensive rebounds as a case in point.

"There's no excuse for that," Erickson said. "We're the bigger team and we give up 22 offensive rebounds. That's just a lack of effort and heart."

Northern got 15 points and three assists from Bateman and 14 points from Reome, while Valgardson chipped in with 11 points.

The Skylights will return home for a week of practice before heading to Walla Walla, Wash.. on Saturday to face Whitman College.



Khadiga Mohamed 4-9 6-7 16, Brettney Vermandel 0-3 5-6 5, Megan Valgardson 6-8 3-8 15, Kristie Pullin 2-6 0-4 4, Anna Bateman 3-10 4-4 11, Jessi Reome 6-12 2-3 16, Chasi Buffington 2-3 1-2 5, Jena Heggem 1-1 0-0 3, Michele VanDyke 0-4 2-3 2, Totals 24-56 23-37 77.


Emily Woody 7-11 6-9 20, Rachel Bromiley 1-2 0-0 2, Lindsay Hart 0-2 3-4 3, Tara Zoanni 7-16 18-20 33, Andrea Hall 2-4 0-0 6, Laci High 3-5 0-0 8, Catie Priddy 2-3 0-0 4, Ellen Smith 2-6 0-0 4, Vanessa Tomco 3-5 3-6 9, Totals 27-54 30-39 89.

Halftime: CC 44, MSUN 34. Three-pointers: MSUN 6 (Mohamed 2, Reome 2, Bateman, Heggem), Carroll 5 (Hall 2, High 2, Zoanni). Fouled Out - none. Technical Fouls - Northern - 2 (Pullin, coach).



Khadiga Mohamed 2-6 0-0 4, Brettney Vermandel 0-1 0-0 0, Megan Valgardson 3-6 6-8 12, Jessi Reome 3-11 5-6 14, Anna Bateman 4-9 4-4 15, Kristie Pullin 1-3 1-2 3, Chasi Buffington 3-5 1-1 7, Jena Heggem 2-5 0-0 4, Michele VanDyke 4-9 0-2 8. Totals 24-61 17-25 71.


Hillary Taylor 4-8 3-3 11, Jamie Buell 1-8 4-5 6, Katherine Sunwall 6-8 1-1 13, Alyssa Matter 2-8 5-7 11, Megan Schmitz 4-12 2-6 13, Billi Suhr 1-5 2-2 5, Meghan Gradert 0-5 4-6 4, Leslie Jacobsen 0-0 1-2 1, Verna Hugs 7-8 0-0 14. Totals 25-62 22-32 78.

Halftime - Western 42-35. 3-point goals - Northern 6-21 (Reome 3-10, Bateman 3-7, Pullin 0-1, Buffington 0-2, Heggem 0-2), Western 6-27 (Taylor 0-3, Buell 0-6, Matter 2-4, Schmitz 3-9, Suhr 1-5). Rebounds - Northern 33 (Mohamed 7), Western 46 (Gradert 11). Assists - Northern 13 (Bateman 3), Western 11 (Schmitz 4). Blocks - Northern 1 (Bateman), Western 2 (Sunwall, Gradert). Steals - Northern 12 (Pullin 4), Western 7 (Matter 3). Turnovers - Northern 20, Western 23. Total fouls - Northern 26, Western 20. Fouled out - Bateman. Technicals - none.


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