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Argos sink Skylights at the end

Providence thwarts a valiant MSU-N comeback in Great Falls


January 10, 2020

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern's Allix Goldhahn, left, drives the ball during Thursday night's Frontier Conference women's game against the University of Providence Argos in Great Falls. The Argos stopped a great comeback by the No. 11 Skylights and hung on for a four-point win.

GREAT FALLS - Coming into the re-start of Frontier Conference play, the Montana State University-Northern Skylights had the best scoring defense in the NAIA. And while that defense was stressed to the max for the second straight night, it also almost spurned an epic comeback.

And yet, thanks to University of Providence star Emilee Maldonado, the comeback was not to be.

Thursday night in the McLaughlin Center, Maldonado hit a driving layup with just 16 seconds left to stop an 11-0 Northern run, and lift the un-ranked Argos to a 68-64 win over the No. 11 Skylights. It was MSU-N's second straight loss in league play, as the Skylights fell to 2-2 in conference.

And Maldonado was a big reason why. She scored 27 points, including the last seven of the first half, as well as the last four for the Argos, who led 63-51 with four minutes to play, but watched as Northern stormed back to pull within 65-63 with :42 left, as Mckenzie Gunter made two layups in a row to cap the run.

Still as good as the Skylights played in the final five minutes, it wasn't enough to get out of Great Falls with a needed win.

"Emilee Maldonado was an All-American tonight," Northern head coach Chris Mouat said. "She couldn't miss in the first half. We made some adjustments to slow her down in the second half, but she was great. She hit a huge shot at the end of the game, and she did a lot to really hurt us.

"At the same time, we have to shoot the ball better," he continued. "You can't shoot 37 percent and go 1-for-10 from three and expect to win these big games. A lot of our shooting trouble was layups, too. Twice we cut the lead to two and then missed easy layups. That's our fault, that's on us. That's where we have to get better."

The game, two nights after the Skylights dropped a tough home game to Carroll College, was also a tale of Northern playing catchup. The Skylights did jump out to a 6-2 lead, but by the end of the first period, Northern trailed 17-15.

In the second, the two bitter rivals, who will meet again in just two weeks, traded leads four times, but when Northern went on a four-minute field goal drought, UP led 31-23. The Skylights did well to catch up, with key buckets and defensive plays from Hailey Nicholson, but Maldonado kept driving to the hole, and kept Northern at bay. She scored the final five points of the half to give the Argos a 34-29 lead, and while Northern started the third period on a 6-0 run, a Maldonado triple sparked a 10-0 UP run that was capped off by back-to-back threes from the Cartwright sisters, and the Argos led 53-41 at the end of three.

Things continued to look gloomy for Northern for much of the third, especially when Maldonado buried another trey to put the Argos up 12. From there however, Northern fought back, sparked by a tenacious effort from Allix Goldhahn on an and-one, and a subsequent triple off an offensive rebound. Gunter then took over from there, but while Northern looked to have one more chance when Jenna Randich missed two free throws to keep the game at one possession, Bailey Cartwright's offensive board off the second miss sealed the Skylight's fate.

"I thought we executed really well down the stretch," Mouat said. "We converted on offense and got big stops and that gave us a chance. I thought we did an outstanding job on the boards. Providence is a very good rebounding team, and we won that battle tonight, and that shows how hard our kids played."

However, the Cartwright sisters complimented Maldonado's huge night, too. Bailey had eight points and 10 boards while Kenedy had 16 points and three steals as UP won the turnover battle 13-6, while Northern did out-rebound the bigger Argos 45-30. The Skylights were paced on offense by Gunter's 15 points, while Goldhahn added a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds and Nicholson finished with 14 points, seven boards and a career-high six blocked shots.

"Hats off to Providence," Mouat said. "They're very good, they played very good, they deserved it tonight. I was also proud of the way our kids fought back at the end. But we have to have that kind of urgency all the time. We have to have that urgency when we have the lead, or in the first quarter. So we just need to learn from this and get ready to go again next week."

The Skylights (13-3) will now be off until next Thursday when they travel to Lewis-Clark State and Montana Tech next Saturday night.

Providence 68, Skylights 64

MSU-Northern 17 12 12 23 - 64

Providence 15 19 19 15 - 68

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Morgan Mason drives during Thursday night's game in Great Falls.

UP - Kenya Lorton 1-6 2-2 4, Allix Goldhahn 3-8 7-7 14, Hailey Nicholson 6-13 2-2 14, Mckenzie Gunter 6-11 3-6 15, Peyton Kehr 0-4 0-0 0, Morgan Mason 1-4 3-5 5, Sydney Hovde 3-5 0-0 6, Tiara Gilham 2-9 2-2 6. Totals 22-60 19-24 64.

MSU-N - Jenna Randich 2-6 0-2 5, Kerstyn Pimperton 1-4 0-0 3, Parker Esary 1-6 0-0 2, Emilee Maldonado 11-14 2-4 27, Kenedy Cartwright 6-14 3-3 16, Reed Hazard 1-4 0-0 2, Bailey Cartwright 3-14 1-2 8, Brooklyn Harn 1-4 2-2 5. Totals 26-66 8-13 68.

3-pt FG:Montana State-Northern 1-10 (Goldhahn 1-3, Nicholson 0-1, Kehr 0-3, Gilham 0-3), Providence (Mont.) 8-15 (Randich 1-2, Pimperton 1-3, Maldonado 3-4, Cartwright 1-3, Cartwright 1-2, Harn 1-1). Rebounds: Montana State-Northern 45 (Goldhahn 11), Providence (Mont.) 29 (Cartwright 10). Fouls Montana State-Northern 17, Providence (Mont.) 17. Fouled out: Gunter.


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