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Skylights topple Saints in the Armory


December 4, 2017

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern's Kealani Sagapolu, right, looks to score during the Skylight's thrilling win over Carroll College Saturday night in the Armory Gymnasium. Northern split its Frontier Conference opening home stand.

When the Montana State University-Northern Skylights woke up Saturday morning, they weren't happy. They were coming off a disheartening, 15-point loss to Rocky Mountain College in their Frontier Conference opener.

Fortunately for the Skylights though, they could do something about it, and they did just that. They rebounded from the loss to the Battlin' Bears with a dominant, 53-42 win over their biggest rival, Carroll College, Saturday night inside a raucous Armory Gymnasium.

"We were pretty bummed after the Rocky game," Northern senior Brandy Lambourne said. "So we really wanted to get this win. We knew we had to have this one, and we went out and did exactly what we needed to do. We did the little things better, we just played better, and we got it done."

No question, the No. 21 Skylights played better after a rough performance Friday night. Carroll came in having beaten an NCAA Division I power in Boise State, so the challenge was daunting. But, the Skylights proved to be up to it.

"Our kids have a lot of pride, and they rose up tonight," MSU-N head coach Chris Mouat said. "They were disappointed with how they played against Rocky, and they worked hard to get ready for this one. And I'm super proud of them for the way they bounced back, and for how they did it against a really good team in Carroll."

The bounce back started when Peyton Filius knocked in an early 3-pointer for the Skylights, and got even better when Jacy Thompson finished off an 8-0 run with a floater. That led to a 15-12 Northern lead after one.

Then, on the other end of the floor, the Skylights' defense took hold, allowing the Saints just six points in the second period, while Lambourne scored seven on her own, giving Northern a 25-18 lead at the break.

"I thought defensively, we were really good tonight, and that's not easy against an athletic and talented team in Carroll," Mouat said. "I thought our effort defensively was tremendous. And I was proud of the way we fought on the boards. It's always going to be tough to out-rebounded Carroll, because they are so good on the boards. But we did enough on the boards. We battled hard and held our own."

On all accounts, the Skylights did more than enough. They answered every Carroll push in the second half. A Thompson three answered a Bailey Pasta triple, and a shot-clock beating triple from Filius answered an 8-2 run by Carroll, a run that was helped by excellent play from former Havre Blue Pony Dani Wagner.

"Dani Wagner did some great things tonight," Mouat said. "She played really well. She made some key plays for them, and that's a neat thing for her to come home and be able to contribute like she did."

But in the end, it was the Skylights' former Ponies, especially Lambourne and Filius, who helped get Northern to the finish line. Early in the fourth quarter, Carroll had crept to within six points, but Lambourne followed up two buckets by Kaelani Sagapolu, with some clutch free throws, and while Wagner drilled a triple for the Saints, the Skylights had built enough of a cushion, and were playing such great defense, Carroll wasn't able to mount any more charges down the stretch.

"A big thing for us was rebounding," Lambourne said. "We had to be better tonight. And I thought we were."

The Skylights didn't quite out-rebound the bigger Saints, but, even short-handed, they played great defense, holding Carroll just 32 percent shooting and an abysmal 2-for-16 performance from three. Hannah Dean was the only Saint to reach double figures with 12.

On the other end, Northern was sharp, shooting 41 percent and making four timely threes. Lambourne led with 14 points, while Thompson and Sagapolu each scored 12. Filius hit a pair of bombs and added eight, while Jessica Curl scored seven and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.

"I thought our balance was key tonight," Mouat said. "Our perimeter-post offense was really balanced. I thought we shared the ball really well, and everybody was in sync. The way we played, we were difficult to guard tonight. And again, our effort on the boards and on defense, that was a big difference as well."

Battled by Bears

As well as Northern played on Saturday night, the Skylights played that way against undefeated Rocky Mountain College Friday night - but only for a quarter.

In a 69-54 loss to the Bears in the Armory, Brandy Lambourne opened the game with a 3-pointer, and the Skylights would lead 15-12 after 10 minutes.

From there however, things slipped away.

In the second period, the Skylights went nearly eight minutes without a field goal, while Rocky ran off a 17-2 run to lead 31-22 at halftime. Northern was able to keep the lead close for part of the third quarter, but the Bears would lead by 11 heading into the fourth, and MSU-N never got any closer.

"They (Bears) did a great job on D, and their ability to get offensive rebounds, and our inability to get them off the boards, that was big," MSU-N head coach Chris Mouat said. "So give Rocky a ton of credit. They are talented and athletic and so well coached, and they came in here and took it from us.

"But, on our end, we also just weren't very good, after the start," Mouat continued. "We had way too many unforced turnovers, and we had really good looks offensively, that we didn't make. We've got to shoot the ball better than that if we want to be successful. We've got to shoot it more consistently."

The Skylights did struggle offensively, though they did shoot 42 percent from the field. Lambourne led the way with 17 points, while Jessica Curl had 14 points and six rebounds. But, 17 turnovers, and a combined 38 points from RMC's Mikayla and Brooke Jones was too much to overcome.

And still, the Skylights (1-1, 7-3), who were without star sophomore Shiloh McCormick, managed to come right back from the Rocky loss and beat a stout Carroll team, and that will give MSU-N plenty of confidence moving forward.

"It's a home split," Mouat said. "It's not what we wanted, but it's a lot better than being 0-2. So we're going to be happy about being 1-1, we're excited about the way we played tonight (Saturday). It's never easy to beat Carroll, no matter where you play them. But we also know we have a long way to go, and we'll continue to grow as we go. I thought, after taking a couple steps back against Rocky, we did that tonight, we grew, and we moved forward. And we need to continue to do that."

The Skylights will have this week off before returning to the Armory to face Nueta Hidatsa Dec. 15-16.

Skylights are 1-1 in the Frontier, 7-3 overall; Next Up-Nueta Hidatsa Dec. 15

Rocky 69, Skylights 54

Rocky Mountain 12 19 16 22 – 69

MSU-Northern 15 7 14 18 - 54

RMC - Alecia Chamberlin 3-4 0-0 7, Justyn Juhl 1-6 0-0 3, Hailee Farstveet 1-10 0-0 2, Markaele Francis 3-6 0-0 6, Eboney Jackson 4-6 0-2 8, Mikayla Jones 7-11 5-6 22, Taylor Deaton 0-0 0-0 0, Jessica Ellsworth 0-0 0-0 0, Olivia James 0-0 0-0 0, Brooke Jones 6-9 4-6 16, Riana Rogers 0-0 0-0 0, Kiana Corpus 0-3 0-0 0, Alexi Smith 1-4 2-2 5. Totals 26-59 11-16 69.

MSU-N - Jacy Thompson 2-5 2-2 6, Brandy Lambourne 5-17 4-6 17, Naomi Terry 0-0 1-2 1, Jessica Curl 5-9 4-4 14, Peyton Filius 1-3 0-0 3, Peyton Kehr 1-1 0-0 2, Lily Hilderbrand 1-2 1-2 3, Kealani Sagapolu 3-5 2-4 8. Totals 18-42 14-20 54.

3-pt FG:Rocky Mountain (Mont.) 6-18 (Chamberlin 1-1, Juhl 1-4, Farstveet 0-1, Jones 3-5, Jones 0-2, Corpus 0-3, Smith 1-2), Montana State University- 4-11 (Thompson 0-1, Lambourne 3-9, Filius 1-1). Rebounds: Rocky Mountain (Mont.) 25 (Jackson 7), Montana State University- 28 (Sagapolu 8). Fouls Rocky Mountain (Mont.) 17, Montana State University- 13. Fouled out: none.

Skylights 53, Carroll 42

Carroll College 12 6 13 11 – 42

MSU-Northern 15 10 13 15 – 53

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Northern's Brandy Lambourne shoots over a Rocky Mountain College defender during Friday night's game in the Armory Gymnasium.

CC - Bailey PASTA 2-7 0-0 5, Jaidyn LYMAN 2-5 0-0 4, Danielle WAGNER 3-3 0-0 6, Michaela DOWDY 2-5 2-4 6, Christine DENNY 0-1 0-0 0, Taylor SALONEN 3-7 0-0 6, Mikaela OLSON 1-5 0-0 3, Hannah DEAN 5-13 2-2 12, Brittney JOHNSON 0-3 0-0 0, Oona HARRINGTON 0-3 0-0 0, Mikaela ROBINSON 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 18-54 4-6 42.

MSU-N - Jacy Thompson 4-11 3-4 12, Brandy Lambourne 5-11 3-4 14, Naomi Terry 0-0 0-0 0, Jessica Curl 3-10 1-2 7, Peyton Filius 2-6 2-2 8, Peyton Kehr 0-0 0-0 0, Lily Hilderbrand 0-1 0-0 0, Kealani Sagapolu 4-7 4-6 12. Totals 18-46 13-18 53.

3-pt FG:Carroll College 2-16 (PASTA 1-3, LYMAN 0-2, OLSON 1-2, DEAN 0-2, JOHNSON 0-2, HARRINGTON 0-3, ROBINSON 0-2), Montana State University- 4-11 (Thompson 1-2, Lambourne 1-3, Filius 2-6). Rebounds: Carroll College 32 (SALONEN 7), Montana State University- 28 (Curl 12). Fouls Carroll College 18, Montana State University- 8. Fouled out: none.


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