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Skylights brace for talented Diggers and Dawgs'

 

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The Montana State University- Northern women's basketball team is coming off one impressive blowout victory. But with one of the Frontier Conference's most dangerous teams coming to Havre tonight and an old rival in town on Saturday, last week's win over UGF might as well have been last year. Tonight, the Skylights (1-2, 10-9) face the most improved team in the Frontier in Montana Tech, and then they host UM-Western on Saturday night, in what amounts to a pair of critical league games for all three teams. "This is a big weekend for us," MSUN head coach Chris Mouat said. "We'll need to do a lot of things right to be successful. The bottom line for us at this point is that we need to play for 40 minutes in both games. Putting a complete effort together and limiting offensive lulls is going to be very important for us." Northern also comes into the weekend ailing. The Skylights will likely be without backup point guard Laramie Schwenke who suffered an injury in practice this week. MSU-N is also banged up physically. But the Skylights will have to put those woes behind them because the Orediggers (2-2, 12-4) are loaded and will present a huge challenge for MSUN. Senior forward Jessie DePell is second in scoring at 18 points per game, just ahead of Northern's Samm Schermele, who averages 16 points per outing. DePell leads perhaps the most talented front line in the league, as Tech also gets plenty of production from 5-9 Taesha Higbee, 5-11 Danni Devenny and 6-2 senior center Janessa Todd. "Montana Tech might be the most talented team in our league. They have really good athletes and are playing as well as anyone," Mouat said. "Jessie DePell is still a major factor for them because she can hurt you in so many ways. She is dangerous from the three, posting up, and off of the dribble. She is a very complete guard and a very tough matchup for us. But they are so much more than just her. "This team has a ton of depth and they have seasoned kids who have been playing in this league for a long time," he added "They have beaten good teams all season long, including L-C State last weekend in Butte. They are playing with a lot of confidence and really create matchup problems for us. We'll have to be at our best at both ends of the floor." Tonight's game could come down to which team handles the others defense the best. Traditionally, because MSU-N and Tech are two of the better defensive teams in the Frontier, the games have been low scoring. So it will be critical for Northern to take care of the basketball, and get its usual production, not only from Schermele and Taylor Keller, but the continued fine play of Zivile Gaizutyte, who averages a double-double. MSU-N's bench play, especially that of improving freshman Laci Keller will also be necessary against a deep Tech team tonight. And the same can be said for Saturday night's tilt against UM-Western (0-4, 4-13). The Bulldogs might be winless so far in league play, but they have plenty of offensive firepower, and they have won in dramatic fashion the last two times they have played in Havre, including in last year's Frontier playoffs. The Bulldogs are led by point guard Jamie Lake, who averages 12 points per game. Western is also a dangerous 3-point shooting team with Heather Brooks, Stephanie Dana and 6-0 center Chloe Mosey, who plays from the outside in. So once again, defense will be key to Northern's success as game between the Skylights and Bulldogs always seem to come down to the wire. "Western is playing extremely hard and they are a very dangerous team. They have a new coach and she is doing great things with them," Mouat said. "They have some real quality wins to their credit this year, and they are never out of any game because of how hard they play. They have a real mix of experience and youth and are playing a lot of kids night to night. Heather Brooks, Chloe Mosey, Jamie Lake, Stephanie Dana, and Kristen Leudtke have all done good things for them against us in the past and they've added a lot of young talent to their roster this year. They have two kids in double figures but a bunch of kids giving them close to ten points per game." Tonight's game between the Skylights and Orediggers tips off at 6 at the MSU-Northern Fieldhouse. Saturday's game featuring the Skylights and Bulldogs also begins at 6 p.m. Both games can be heard locally on 92.5 KPQX FM.

 

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