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Skylights look to bounce back at LC State, Montana Tech

 

January 16, 2020

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern's McKenzie Gunter, right, drives by a Carroll College defender during last week's Frontier Conference game in Havre. The Skylights, now ranked No. 18 in the NAIA, travel to Lewis-Clark State tonight, followed by a road game at Montana Tech Saturday night. Northern has a rematch with Carroll next Wednesday night in the Armory Gymnasium.

If last week was rough for the Montana State University-Northern women's basketball team, then things aren't going to get an easier this weekend.

The No. 18 Skylights (2-2, 13-3), who lost their first two games of Frontier Conference play last weekend, will have to be road warriors tonight when they visit the No. 25 Lewis-Clark State Warriors, as well as Saturday when they travel to Montana Tech.

And Northern head coach Chris Mouat knows just how daunting the trip will be.

"In both games, we are going to need to be much more fundamental," Mouat said. "We need to do a much better job of taking care of the ball, first and foremost. Last week, we simply had too many turnovers that led to points in both games. We also need to execute and finish. Both teams will get after us, and we are on the road, so doing the little things right is as important as ever. We know that these are two quality, well-coached teams who are both loaded with talent. It's a challenging weekend, but every weekend in our league is challenging. I know our kids are excited about getting back on the floor."

Mouat listed things his team needs to improve on after falling at home to Carroll College and on the road at Providence last week. Still, with the talents of McKenzie Gunter, Hailey Nicholson and Peyton Kehr leading the way, as well as an increased scoring punch from Allix Goldhahn of late, the Skylights, and their stingy defense, will also be a big challenge for the two road opponents this weekend.

And it starts with LC State (1-3, 9-5) tonight. The Warriors lost a pair of heartbreakers last week, but Mouat is expecting nothing less than a typical LCSC team led by longtime head coach Brian Orr, point guard Peyton Souvenir and a strong cast of standout players.

"Lewis-Clark has a really nice team and they've won a lot of big games," Mouat said. "LC is athletic and long, and they do a good job of mixing their defenses. They are really active in their zones and do a good job disrupting teams. We can expect to see a little bit of everything from them. Offensively, they play very fast and have a lot of kids who can hurt you from the perimeter and in the paint. They are always tough, and this year is no different. They are coming off of an Elite 8 run in Billings, and a lot of experienced players from that team."

No doubt, the Warriors, who essentially beat the Skylights in heartbreaking fashion three times last season, are very good, but so are the Orediggers (1-3, 11-5). Led by the senior-freshman combo of Mesa Williams (20 ppg) and Tavia Rooney (11 rpg) Tech is as dangerous as any team in the Frontier.

"Montana Tech has a ton of firepower," Mouat said. "They have the leading rebounder (Tavia Rooney) and the leading scorer (Mesa Williams) in the league, and they can really score it. They do a nice job on the offensive boards and play really well in transition. We can expect them to press us in full-court and probably play both man and zone against us."

So once again, the Skylights are up against another challenging week in the Frontier, but like Mouat said, that's the case every week, and this week is no different.

Tonight's game between the Skylights and Warriors tips at 6:30 in Lewiston, Idaho. Northern's game at Montana Tech Saturday tips off at 5:30 p.m.

NAIA Coaches Poll

1 3 The Master's (Calif.) [5] 18-0 216

2 2 Oklahoma City [4] 13-0 215

3 1 Campbellsville (Ky.) 18-1 205

4 4 Westmont (Calif.) 13-2 195

5 5 Vanguard (Calif.) 10-2 190

6 6 Wayland Baptist (Texas) 12-2 182

7 7 Shawnee State (Ohio) 18-2 177

8 8 Central Methodist (Mo.) 14-1 175

9 15 Bethel (Tenn.) 14-4 163

10 18 Lyon (Ark.) 14-1 150

11 10 Talladega (Ala.) 13-4 144

12 14 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 15-3 143

13 9 Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) 11-5 135

14 17 Loyola (La.) 11-3 129

15 12 Columbia (Mo.) 12-3 123

16 16 Our Lady of the Lake 13-5 120

17 25 Carroll (Mont.) 11-5 108

18 11 Montana State-Northern 13-3 102

19 23 Grand View (Iowa) 12-3 88

20 20 Rocky Mountain (Mont.) 12-3 83

21 NR Clarke (Iowa) 14-3 77

22 24 Montana Western 10-5 63

23 NR LSU Shreveport (La.) 12-3 56

24 NR Martin Methodist (Tenn.) 11-4 50

25 13 Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) 9-5 48

Receiving Votes: Benedictine (Kan.) 45, William Penn (Iowa) 31, MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) 25, Mid-American Christian (Okla.) 17, Philander Smith (Ark.) 13, Rust (Miss.) 9, Lindenwood Belleville (Ill.) 7, Cumberlands (Ky.) 6, Pikeville (Ky.) 5, LSU Alexandria (La.) 5.

 

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