Learning: Skylights get needed split with Tech
Last updated 1/18/2021 at 7:42am
It wasn't that long ago that Montana State University-Northern head women's basketball coach Chris Mouat said his team needed to finish games. Well, the Skylights found themselves with a chance to do that this weekend in the Armory Gymnasium, and after a near miss Saturday night, they got the job done the following day.
Northern, which was in search of its first Frontier Conference win this weekend, split with Montana Tech, including a 67-53 win Sunday.
"Really proud of our kids," Mouat said. "They were kind of kicking themselves about what happened last night. So for them to rise up 12 hours later and do what they did today, I'm just really proud of them."
The win gave the Skylights a much-needed boost, and it came on the heels of a 17-9 second-quarter run, which saw them go ahead of the Orediggers 29-25.
But Northern was even better in the final 20 minutes. The Skylights roared out of the gates in the second half, and thanks to the hot-shooting of Tiara Gilham, and dominant inside play by Sydney Hovde, not only did the Skylights close out the Orediggers, they did so in convincing fashion.
"We got a huge lift with some big buckets right before halftime," Mouat said. "And so we were feeling really good about where we were at in the locker room. We had a momentum boost right there and in the third quarter, we finally got separation. We got a bit of lead, and we did a good job of not just holding onto it, but extending it in the fourth quarter.
"That was the first time in a while that we weren't in a one or two possession game down the stretch," he added. "So it's good. It feels good. I'm happy for our kids. It's a confidence boost for sure. I'm just very proud of the way they finished."
Gilham was brilliant, scoring 21 points and also grabbing nine rebounds. Hovde was equally as effective as she put up 14 points and yanked down 13 boards for a double-double. Seniors McKenzie Gunter and Peyton Kehr added 13 and 12 points, respectively, and they combined for three timely triples. Defensively, Northern was really good, too. The Skylights held Tech to 34 percent shooting, while winning the battle of the boards again.
Saturday night, MSU-N came all the way back from 13 down in the third quarter to lead Montana Tech 58-57 with :42 left, only to see the Orediggers score five quick points and pull off a 62-58 victory in the Armory Gymnasium.
"It's disappointing," Mouat said. "We did a really good job of fighting back through major foul trouble, too. So for it to get away at the end like that, it hurts. It's tough. You have to play to the end. You have to close a game out when you get the chance, and we just haven't done that yet."
The loss was a stinging one for the Skylights who have been in so many close games already this winter. But it especially hurt because of all they did to battle back.
Northern started the game hot with 3-pointers from Peyton Kehr and Allix Goldhahn, but an 8-2 Tech run to end the first period saw the Skylights trailing 21-16.
Both teams continued to play well in the second stanza, with Tiara Gilham hitting a trey, and Northern going on a 6-0 squirt to tie the game at 31-31. However, the Diggers finished with a flurry again, as Celestina Faletoi scored back-to-back baskets in the paint, sending Tech to a 37-31 halftime lead - a lead that would balloon to 42-31 early in the third, as the Orediggers outscored the Skylights 13-2 in a six-minute stretch.
"We didn't get off to the best start," Mouat said. "We missed a bunch of shots, and then at the end of the half, they (Orediggers) went on a run, and that really hurt us. So we had to play from behind, and I thought, for the most part, for much of the second half, we did a good job of that. We dug ourselves out of that hole. We kept on fighting."
As deep a hole as the Skylights were in, however, Mouat was right, they didn't fold.
McKenzie Gunter made two shots in a row and Kehr hit a triple to get some momentum, though Northern still trailed 52-43 at the end of the third quarter. From there, though, the Skylights really started cooking.
Kehr hit her third trey of the night at the 5:33 mark, capping a 9-2 run and pulling the Skylights to within three. And when Allix Goldhahn made two straight shots, and Kehr added a driving layup at the 1:32 mark, Northern had ripped off another 9-2 run, and finally led with a minute to go, setting up the dramatic, but heartbreaking finish, a finish that saw the Skylights out-play Tech in almost every category, as MSU-N shot 39 percent, 40 percent from deep and out-rebound the taller Orediggers 42-36.
Kehr and Tiara Gilham would also lead the Skylights with 13 points each, while Goldhahn had nine. That didn't offset the game that Faletoi had off the bench as she scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Dani Urick added 12 points, including a pair of game-clinching free throws for the Diggers.
""They (Orediggers) did good things in the post tonight," Mouat said. "They took advantage of us down there, and we've got to learn to be better defensively.
"The bottom line is, we just didn't finish," he added. "We had the lead down the stretch, and that's where you want to be. We just shot ourselves in the foot too many times, so we have to learn from this, and we will."
The Skylights indeed, learned from Saturday night, as evidenced by Sunday's win. Now they'll try to build some momentum when they host arch rival Providence Wednesday night.
Skylights are 1-5 in Frontier, 2-8 overall; Next: vs Providence
Montana Tech 62, Skylights 58
Montana Tech 21 16 15 10 - 62
MSU-Northern 16 15 12 15 - 58
MT - Brooke Heggie 5-5 0-0 10, Dani Urick 3-13 6-6 12, Mesa Williams 5-13 0-3 10, Soda Rice 1-2 1-2 3, Mollie Peoples 2-10 0-0 6, Aubrie Radamacher 1-3 1-2 3, Celestine Faletoi 6-11 6-6 18. Totals: 23-62 14-19.
MSU-N - Sydney Hovde 3-12 2-2 8, Tiara Gilham 5-14 2-2 13, Allix Goldhahn 4-7 0-0 9, McKenzie Gunter 3-6 0-0 6, Peyton Kehr 5-12 0-2 13, L'Tia Lawrence 1-6 2-2 4, Ryley Kehr 1-2 1-2 3, Morgan Mason 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 23-60 7-10.
3-pointers: MT 2-6 (Peoples 2), MSU-N 5-13 (Gilham 1, Goldhahn 1, Kehr 3), Rebounds: MT 36 (Faletoi 8), MSU-N 42 (Hovde 9). Fouls: MT 13, MSU-N 19. Fouled out: Hovde.
Skylights 67, Montana Tech 53
Montana Tech 16 9 11 17 - 67
MSU-Northern 12 17 18 20 - 67
MT - Mesa Williams 4-14 0-2 9, Mollie Peoples 4-11 0-0 9, Celestina Faletoi 3-5 0-0 6, Dani Urick 6-9 8-8 22, Jaden Comings 0-0 0-0 0, Madison Allen 2-5 0-0 4, Soda Rice 0-8 1-2 1, Aubrie Rademacher 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 19-54 11-14 53.
MSU-N - Allix Goldhahn 1-7 1-2 4, L'Tia Lawrence 0-5 0-0 0, Ryley Kehr 0-1 3-4 3, Mckenzie Gunter 4-13 4-4 13, Peyton Kehr 4-7 2-2 12, Morgan Mason 0-1 0-0 0, Sydney Hovde 7-10 0-0 14, Tiara Gilham 7-16 5-7 21. Totals 23-60 15-19 67.
3-pt FG:Montana Tech 4-13 (Williams 1-2, Peoples 1-3, Urick 2-3, Rice 0-4, Rademacher 0-1), Montana State-Northern 6-23 (Goldhahn 1-4, Lawrence 0-2, Gunter 1-6, Kehr 2-4, Gilham 2-7). Rebounds: Montana Tech 35 (Rademacher 9), Montana State-Northern 38 (Hovde 13). Fouls Montana Tech 21, Montana State-Northern 16. Fouled out: Rice Faletoi.