The Start: Skylights split opening games in Helena

MSU-N women clobber Valley City State after a tough loss to former rival LCSC


Last updated 11/30/2020 at 9:04am

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Montana State University-Northern senior McKenzie Gunter had a big weekend for the Skylights. At the Carroll College Thanksgiving Classic, Gunter scored 23 points Saturday as MSU-N beat Valley City State. Gunter also scored 14 points in a close loss to former rival Lewis-Clark State Friday.

It took a lot just to get to the first game of the season. But, finally, the Montana State University-Northern women's basketball team is off and running.

Northern opened the 2020-21 season at the Carroll College Thanksgiving Classic this past Friday with a close loss to now former Frontier Conference rival Lewis-Clark State. But, less than 24 hours later, the Skylights put on an offensive display when they blasted Valley City State 84-49.

The victory over the Vikings was the first for Northern on the young season, and it came on the heels of a stellar 47 percent night from the field. The Skylights also came out red-hot, scoring 43 points in the first 20 minutes to lead 43-24 at the break, then pouring open 27 more points to put the Vikings away in the third quarter.

"I was very pleased," Northern head coach Chris Mouat said. "Especially after a really tough one on Friday, our kids came out really focused, really ready to go. And we got off to a great start. We were up 18-3 at one point. So we did a lot of really good things in that first half, and then in that third quarter, we played as well as I've seen us play in a long time. So I'm very proud of our kids for making adjustments and really coming in ready to go. It was a lot of fun.

Indeed, MSU-N played well on both ends of the floor. Offensively, the Skylights made six triples and shot 82 percent from the foul line. They got a game-high 23 points from McKenzie Gunter, another 20 from Peyton Kehr, while Sydney Hovde had 11 points and 15 rebounds for a big double-double. Freshman L'Tia Lawrence added 15 points, while defensively, the Skylights held the Vikings to just 25 percent from the field and two three's, while forcing them into 19 turnovers.

"They "Vikings" didn't have their 6-5 big girl, she got hurt the day before against Carroll," Mouat said. "But I thought they did a great job of adjusting, and really attacking us with their guards. So then we had to make some adjustments, and overall, our kids did that. They did a great job, a and overall, I thought we played really well for much of that game. A lot to work on of course, but overall, I'm really pleased."

The Skylights did play really good on Saturday, but, it wasn't like they played bad on Friday, either.

Taking on LC State in their season-opener, it was a non-conference game against a longtime rival, as LCSC has now left the Frontier. But, it certainly resembled a Frontier game as the two teams duked it out in what ended up being a 75-66 LC State win. The third quarter was the big difference in Friday's game, as LC State outscored the Skylights 19-6. MSU-N had trailed just 42-38 at the break, and while Northern closed the gap two six points in the final minute of the game, they couldn't quite get over the hump.

"We played hard, we fought," Mouat said. "We did a great job of battling them (Warriors) on the boards. They are so big, they're physical, and they're athletic. So I was really proud of how we fought, and the way we fought back in the fourth quarter. I just think we shot ourselves in the foot a one too many times, but it was a tough game, and it was really good for us."

Again, Northern played very good against the Warriors. The Skylights buried 13 3-poiinters, with Gunther, Allix Goldhahn and Lawrence each making four. The trio also paced Northern overall with 14 points apiece.

"We had so many different kids step up and play well throughout this weekend," Mouat said. "McKenzie had a tremendous weekend. She was awesome in both games. I thought Sydney Hovde was great on the boards in both games. She was really tough, and Peyton Kehr really sparked on Saturday. But across the board, we had a bunch of kids really step up and play well, and do things to help us, and that's a real positive for us moving forward.

"So it was a good weekend," he added. "We'd like to have won both games, but, we played two good teams, and we have a lot of positives and a lot of things we can take away from both games, so it was a big weekend for us, and I'm proud of our kids."

Now, it will be a short turnaround for the Skylights as they travel to Billings to begin conference play. MSU-N (1-1) takes on nationally ranked Rocky Mountain Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. to begin the new league schedule. Northern also has a pair of home games against LC State scheduled for Dec. 11-12.

Skylights 84, Valley City 49

Valley City State 7 17 11 14 - 49

MSU-Northern 23 20 27 14 - 84

MSU-N - Allix Goldhahn 0-3 3-3 2, McKenize Gunter 10-16 1-2 23, Sydney Hovde 4-9 3-4 11, Ryley Kehr 2-4 1-2 5, Peyton Kehr 7-9 3-3 20, L'Tia Lawrence 4-9 5-6 15, Morgan Mason 2-4 2-2 6, Dulci Skunkcap 1-4 0-0 2.

VCS - N/A.

3-pointers: MSU-N 6-20 (Gunter 1, Kehr 3, Lawrence 2). Rebounds: MSU-N 56 (Hovde 15), Fouls: MSU-N 24; Fouled out: None.

LC State 75, Skylights 66

Lewis-Clark State 21 21 19 14 - 75

MSU-Northern 16 22 6 22 - 66

LCSC - Jansen Edmiston 7-12 0-0 17, Kiara Burlage 6-11 3-5 16, Abbie Johnson 4-5 4-5 12, Peyton Souvenir 1-6 0-0 3, Abby Farmer 6-10 0-0 15, Heidi Sellmann 0-6 4-4 4, Alexis Sykora 0-1 0-0 0, Sara Muhelhausen 0-0 0-0 0, Madeline Weaver 1-2 0-0 3, Rachel Schroeder 1-6 0-0 3, Hannah Broyles 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 27-62 11-14 75.

MSU-N - Peyton Kehr 2-9 1-4 6, Sydney Hovde 4-10 0-0 8, Allix Goldhahn 5-11 0-1 14, Morgan Mason 0-3 0-0 0, Mckenzie Gunter 5-13 0-0 14, Ryley Kehr 4-7 0-0 8, ShaAnn Danelson 0-0 0-0 0, Cameron Mooney 1-2 0-0 2, Dulci Skunkcap 0-0 0-0 0, L'Tia Lawrence 5-9 0-0 14, Brandi White 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-64 1-5 66.

3-pt FG:Lewis-Clark State College 10-24 (Edmiston 3-6, Burlage 1-2, Souvenir 1-3, Farmer 3-6, Sellmann 0-1, Weaver 1-2, Schroeder 1-4), Montana State University- 13-29 (Kehr 1-5, Goldhahn 4-9, Mason 0-1, Gunter 4-5, Kehr 0-2, Lawrence 4-7). Rebounds: Lewis-Clark State College 39 (Johnson 13), Montana State University- 39 (Hovde 15). Fouls Lewis-Clark State College 7, Montana State University- 16. Fouled out: none.


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