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Skylights cage Dawgs to earn a split


January 16, 2017

Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern's Sierra Richards, left, looks to shoot during Friday's Frontier Conference women's game against Rocky Mountain College at the Armory Gymnasium. Richards recorded two double-doubles, as the Skylights fell to RMC, but beat UM-Western Saturday night.

Good teams overcome adversity. Mature teams know how to handle a tough loss. And the Montana State University-Northern Skylights showed exactly that on their home floor against a very good UM-Western squad.

After a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Rocky Mountain College Friday night, the No. 11 Skylights rebounded in a big way, knocking off a dangerously good Western squad, 67-50 Saturday night inside the Armory Gymnasium.

The Skylights got off to a great start following Friday night’s defeat, and rode the wave of a huge, 27-point, 14-rebound double-double from Sierra Richards to a much-needed win.

“The kids were ready tonight, they were very focused,” Northern head coach Chris Mouat said. “I trust our senior leadership, and we have a lot of experience on this team, and those things paid off tonight. It was just a great response to what was a really tough loss last night. So credit to our kids for that.”

The response came in the form of a spectacular 15-0 first-quarter run by Northern. The Bulldogs, who had lost just twice all season, and thrashed nationally ranked UGF one night earlier, matched the Skylights early as the two teams traded the lead six times in the first four minutes. But when Molly Kreycik knocked down a triple that gave Northern a 13-11 lead, a lead the Skylights would never give up, MSU-N was off and running.

Natalee Faupel and Katie Fertterer combined for 10 points as the run grew to 15-0 by the end of the first period, and Richards laid in a shot to start the second stanza to give the Skylights a 27-11 lead. Kaye Bignell finally ended an eight-minute scoring drought for the Bulldogs, but Northern kept pushing as Kreycik hit another three and Richards scored 10 points in the second as MSU-N took a 42-26 advantage into halftime.

“We came out with a lot of energy,” Richards, who notched her seventh double-double of the season, said, “and we needed to. We did not want to lose on our home court again. We know we should win every game on our home floor, and tonight, we played together and played really well.

“Sierra was big tonight,” Mouat added. “She’s had some big games already this season, and I expect her to. But she’s also raised the expectations for herself. She’s worked really hard and it’s showing because she is playing really well for us right now. And our guards all did a great job of getting her the ball. And she had a great game.”

Richards had an impact the rest of the way, too, eventually going 9-for-9 from the free-throw-line, pulling down key boards as Western tried to chip away at the lead, and playing great defense on Bignell, Western’s top scorer. And defensively, the Skylights were stout. Western shot just 40 percent from the field and 18 percent from beyond the arc, while Northern held a big edge on the boards.

And even when the Bulldogs did threaten, like when they cut the lead to 10 early in the fourth stanza, Northern, and Richards in particular, answered. She scored on an and-one, and Jacy Thompson buried a triple two minutes later. The Skylights were back ahead by 16 points, and Western never threatened again.

“Defensively, I thought we were really good all night,” Mouat said. “Western is really, really good. They’ve beaten some really good teams this season. They have really good players. So for us to hold them down like we did, and win on the boards, that was big. I thought Jacy (Thompson) did a great job defensively guarding Aniese Palmore tonight, and really, the whole team just played very consistent defense and that was big.”

Richards finished 9-of-13 from the field, while Faupel scored 12 and Thompson added 10. Fertterer continued her fine play off the bench with 10 rebounds, while Britt Cooper paced the Dawgs with 16 points.

And with the big win, Northern was able to keep itself in second place in the Frontier standings, and, Richards was a big reason why.

“We just played together tonight,” she said. “We didn’t start out with the mindset to go inside, but when we realized we had an advantage there, we took advantage of it. It just kind of flowed that way, but this was a team effort. Everybody did their job and it was an important win for us.”

Bears steal one

With road wins over nationally ranked UGF and Carroll College last week, the Montana State University-Northern women’s basketball team seemed to have all the momentum in the world heading into the start of a six-game Frontier Conference home stand.

But momentum is a tricky thing. One minute you have it, the next you don’t. And that’s what happened to the Skylights Friday night in the Armory as they were upset by Rocky Mountain College 60-58.

Northern seemed to have momentum early in the game. After leading 8-7 at the end of a low-scoring first period, the Skylights hit three 3-pointers in a span of two minutes, as Peyton Filius, Molly Kreycik and Cydney Auzenne all connected from deep. That flurry gave Northern a seven-point lead with 4:03 until halftime. But Rocky bounced right back and by intermission had tied the game at 24-24.

Northern again appeared to grab momentum when Kreycik nailed a triple to start the third quarter, but from there, Rocky took the lead at the 8:39 mark and outscored the Skylights 22-19 over the next eight minutes. In the fourth quarter, Rocky went ahead by as many as six points, but the Skylights didn’t go quietly into the night, and a layup from Natalee Faupel and an ensuing three-point play by Sierra Richards lifted MSU-N back into the lead at 58-57 with 1:51 to go.

Again however, the momentum, and the lead was short-lived. Hailee Farvsteet scored the last three points of the game, including a free throw with :17 left which put the Bears ahead by two. Rocky then fouled Northern four times before the Skylights got a look at a game-tying shot. The shot didn’t go down, but Richards tied up a rebound, and Northern held possession with three seconds to go. From there, Auzenne got a good look at a game-winning three as time expired, but it didn’t go down either.

“Credit Rocky and Coach Keller,” Mouat said. “They played great defensively and they made shots, and we didn’t make nearly enough shots tonight. “We played very poorly offensively in the first half, and we were terrible defensively in the third quarter and those two things hurt us. And when you add to that how well Rocky played and how well they executed their game plan, they just beat us tonight. It’s as simple as that.

“Having said all that, I am proud of the fight in our kids,” Mouat added. “They didn’t quit. We fought and fought and gave ourselves a chance at the end of the game. The kids never went away, and I’m proud of them for that. But we have to play better going forward and we know that.”

Richards had a strong outing with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Auzenne added 12 and Faupel scored 10, while the Skylights hit six threes and out-rebounded the Bears 30-22. But, Rocky shot a sizzling 57 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes, and got a game-high 16 points from Jayde LaFevere, as the Bears improved to 3-3 in the Frontier.

With the home split, the Skylights are 4-2 in conference play and 14-3 overall. They’ll be right back in the Armory Friday night to face Montana Tech and again Saturday for a showdown with first-place Lewis-Clark State.

Skylights are 4-2 in Frontier, 14-3 overall; Next Up: vs Tech Friday

Rocky Mountain 60, Skylights 58

Rocky 7 8 22 14 – 60

Northern 8 16 19 15 – 58

RMC - Jayde LeFevre 5-10 4-4 16, Alecia Chamberlin 6-7 0-1 13, Justyn Juhl 0-2 0-0 0, Hailee Farstveet 4-9 5-6 13, Brandy Kumm 0-1 0-0 0, Markaela Francis 3-7 1-2 7, Ronnie Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Eboney Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Keisha Engelhardt 5-11 0-0 11, Mikayla Jones 0-3 0-0 0. Totals 23-51 10-13 60.

MSU-N - Jacy Thompson 4-8 0-0 9, Katie Fertterer 1-2 0-0 2, Brandy Lambourne 0-2 0-0 0, Natalee Faupel 3-12 4-4 10, Peyton Filius 1-1 1-2 4, Molly Kreycik 2-6 1-2 7, Shiloh McCormick 0-0 0-0 0, Cydney Auzenne 4-9 2-2 12, Sierra Richards 7-9 1-1 15. Totals 22-49 9-11 59.

3-pt FG: RMC 4-10 (LeFevre 2-4, Chamberlin 1-1, Juhl 0-1, Kumm 0-1, Francis 0-1, Engelhardt 1-1, Jones 0-1), MSU-N 6-17 (Thompson 1-3, Fertterer 0-1, Faupel 0-2, Filius 1-1, Kreycik 2-4, Auzenne 2-6). Rebounds: RMC 22 (Chamberlin 7), MSU-N 30 (Richards 11). Fouls: RMC 10, MSU-N 13. Fouled out: none.

Skylights 67, Western 50

Western 11 15 10 14 – 50

Northern 25 17 9 16 - 67

Colin Thompson

MSU-Northern's Natalee Faupel goes high for a shot during Friday night's game against Rocky Mountain College in the Armory Gymnasium. The Bears upset the Skylights, but they rebounded to beat Western Saturday night.

UM-W - Jill Jacobs 2-3 0-0 5, Molly Klinker 0-1 0-0 0, Dani Baker 0-0 0-0 0, Aniese Palmore 3-10 4-4 10, Sierra Bignell 0-2 0-0 0, Taylor Howlett 1-8 0-2 2, Savanna Bignell 0-4 0-0 0, Britt Cooper 7-13 2-4 16, Frankie Bignell 0-0 0-0 0, Cierra Lamey 2-5 2-2 6, Alexa Welch 1-2 0-0 3, Kaye Bignell 4-10 0-2 8, Darby Schye 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-59 8-14 50.

MSU-N - Jacy Thompson 4-10 0-0 10, Katie Fertterer 2-4 2-3 6, Brandy Lambourne 0-0 0-0 0, Natalee Faupel 6-9 0-0 12, Peyton Filius 0-1 2-2 2, Molly Kreycik 3-8 0-0 8, Shiloh McCormick 0-0 0-0 0, Makhayla Farmer 0-0 0-1 0, Cydney Auzenne 1-2 0-0 2, Sierra Richards 9-13 9-9 27. Totals 25-47 13-15 67.

3-pt FG: UM-W 2-11 (Jacobs 1-1, Palmore 0-4, Bignell 0-1, Howlett 0-1, Bignell 0-1, Lamey 0-1, Welch 1-2), MSU-N 4-14 (Thompson 2-6, Fertterer 0-1, Filius 0-1, Kreycik 2-6). Rebounds: UM-W 22 (Cooper 6), MSU-N 43 (Richards 14). Fouls: UM-W 19, MSU-N 16. Fouled out: Cooper, Auzenne.


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