Women's Basketball Hits Montana With Playoff Hopes On The Line
COMPLETE NOTES: Montana, Montana State
Northern Colorado heads to the state of Montana to compete against both Division I schools in the area, as they take on first-place Montana, winners of six straight, on Thursday evening before facing Montana State in Bozeman on Saturday evening. The Bobcats are currently third in the Big Sky Conference standings and have won their last three.
Usually with two weeks to go in the regular season, some separation has occurred in the conference standings, however this year nothing has been decided. Montana and Portland State are tied for first with identical marks of 12-1, so one of the two will be hosting the tournament. Montana State is third with a record of 6-7, the Bears are fourth at 5-7, four teams are tied with records of 5-8 and Weber State is in ninth at 3-10.
On These Dates
Northern Colorado is 5-7 in games played on Feb. 26 and is just 1-8 on Feb. 28. The Bears have yet to win a road game on the last day of the month in six tries and are 2-6 on the road on February 26. The last game on the 26th happened in 2006 when the Bears lost at #4 Maryland, 89-53, while last year the Bears lost by 11, 66-55, to Montana in Butler-Hancock.
The Bears split the first meeting between the teams this season, dropping an 80-65 decision to Montana and winning a thrilling 88-82 overtime victory against Montana State. The Bears are searching for their-first ever victory against the Lady Griz, entering Thursday with an 0-5 mark. They are 2-4 all-time versus the Bobcats and won last season in Bozeman.
Scouting The Lady Griz
For the second straight week, Northern Colorado will play the top-ranked team in the conference standings, this time in Montana. The Lady Griz are 12-1 in league action and 23-4 on the season with their final three games in Dahlberg Arena. Last weekend, Montana defeated Idaho State and Weber State on the road.
Mandy Morales leads the team and the league in scoring, averaging 16.6 points per game. Sonya Rogers, last week's co-Big Sky Player of the Week, averages 13.8 points, while Sarah Ena leads the team with 6.2 rebounds and is third in scoring at 10.4. Rogers is the main threat from outside, as she has hit 57 triples on the year, but Morales is also dangerous, making 38 on the year. Montana averages 70.5 points and 39.9 rebounds per game, while holding opponents to 55.0 points and 36.8 rebounds.
Scouting The Bobcats
Montana State sits in third place, one spot ahead of the Bears, in the Big Sky Conference standings with a mark of 6-7 and they are 12-13 overall. They, too, have their final three games of the season at home after winning at Idaho State and Weber State last weekend.
Erica Perry leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.0 per game, while Nubia Garcia, the other co-Big Sky Player of the Week, is second in scoring at 12.7 and leads the team and conference in rebounding at 8.8. Katie Bussey also averages double figures in scoring for MSU with 10.6 a contest. Five different Bobcats have made 20 or more three-pointers on the year. Montana State averages 74.5 points and 38.8 rebounds per game, while opponents average 75.6 points and 41.2 rebounds.
Last Time Out
The Bears once again split a weekend in conference play, falling to top-ranked Portland State, 89-71 before bouncing back for their biggest win in league play, 80-58 over Eastern Washington. Junior guard Whitley Cox led the Bears with 22 points against the Vikings, while sophomore center Lara Merritt tallied a career-best 15 points and had seven rebounds. On Saturday, NC used a 21-0 run to pull away from the Eagles. Sophomore forward Kate Kevorken tallied a career-best 29 points and led with nine rebounds. Cox scored her 1,000th career point, ending the game with 16, while sophomore guard Courtney Stoermer notched 15 points, five assists and four steals, giving her nine for the weekend. Senior Jamie Schroeder was honored prior to the game on Saturday and was in the starting lineup for the first time since tearing her ACL, playing six minutes with three rebounds and two points.
Lucky Number 14
At the 11:40 mark of the first half against Eastern Washington with a free throw, junior guard Whitley Cox became just the 14th player in school history with 1,000 career points. With 16 points in the game, she moved past Danielle Hagen (2003-08) into 13th on the chart and now has 1,010 points. She needs just five more to tie for 12th on the chart (Heather Barbour, 2004-07, 1015) and 20 to tie for 11th (Jenny Gallagher, 1994-97, 1030).
Making The Free Ones
Over the last two games, Northern Colorado has raised its free throw percentage 14 points as they shot .833 from the charity stripe in each game, making 30 free throws against Portland State and 20 against Eastern Washington. The Bears are now shooting .723 for the season (409-566). Last season's team established the school record after making .763 of its free throws.
Sophomore center Lara Merritt tied the school record and became just the second player in the Division I era to shoot 100% from the free throw line in a game with a minimum of 10 attempts. Against Portland State, Merritt made all 11 of her attempts and Bailey Dillon made all 10 in 2005 against Utah Valley. Merritt has made 27-of-33 from the stripe in conference games, which ranks her fifth with an .818 percentage.
Sophomore guard Courtney Stoermer tallied nine more steals in the two games over the weekend to bring her season total to 61, which ties for second on the all-time Northern Colorado single-season chart (Diane Dittburner, 1999-00). Stoermer needs 24 more stops to tie the all-time record of 85 by Lisa Burch in 1990-01. She has had at least one steal in 11 of the last 12 games for the Bears and has had three or more in a game eight times this season.
The Triples List
Sophomore forward Kate Kevorken made four three-pointers against Eastern Washington to bring her season total to 49 triples and career tally to 119. With two more three-pointers she will tie for 10th on the single-season chart with 51 (Jessica Johnson, 2001-02) and she now stands alone in fifth on the all-time list with those 119, passing Jenny Gallagher (1994-97), who made 115.
Newcomers To 150
Both freshmen Kaisha Brown and Cassie Lambrecht are closing in on 150 points for the season. Brown currently stands at 149, while Lambrecht is at 141. Both are averaging over five points per game in their first collegiate seasons. Both junior guard Whitley Cox and sophomore forward Kate Kevorken doubled them against Eastern Washington, as they each scored their 300th point of the year against the Eagles. Cox now has 311 points, while Kevorken stands at 301. Senior forward Jamie Schroeder has also scored 150 points this season, as she did so against Eastern Washington, giving her 152 in her final campaign.
It Almost Ended
One of the longest streaks in school history almost came to an end on Thursday against Portland State. Sophomore forward Kate Kevorken hit a three-pointer with just 1:51 remaining in the game for the Bears' only triple of the night. The best three-point team in the conference made just 1-of-10 from beyond the arc. Northern Colorado entered the evening making at least one three-pointer in 231 consecutive games, dating back to 2001. The streak remained active, however, and now is at 233 straight after NC hit 10 against Eastern Washington on Saturday.
Cool Hand Kate
Over the short three-game home stretch, Kate Kevorken did a great job of getting to the free throw line, and making her time there count. The sophomore forward hit 19-of-20 (.950) from the charity stripe and is now connecting at a .814 clip for the season, which ranks third in the Big Sky Conference. The school record for free throw percentage in a season is .898 by Denise Nehme (1989-90), while the Division I era record is (minimum 75 made) .832 by Jamie Schroeder from last year.
Double Figures x 5
For just the second time this season, five different players scored in double figures in one game. Against Black Hills State, sophomore Courtney Stoermer (19), freshman Cassie Lambrecht (18), junior Whitley Cox (15), freshman Kaisha Brown (10) and sophomore Kate Kevorken (10) all scored 10 or more points. The only other time this season where five players hit double digits was against Johnson & Wales.
Sophomore guard Courtney Stoermer is the only player in the Big Sky Conference to be ranked among the top 15 in the league in assists, blocked shots and steals. Stoermer ranks eighth with 3.12 assists, 13th with 0.62 blocks and leads the league with 2.35 steals per game. She also ranks in the top 15 in the league in scoring (8th, 13.1), three-point field goal percentage (2nd, .409), field goal percentage (15th, .410), free throw percentage (11th, .745) and assist-to-turnover ratio (8th, 1.14).
Getting To The Line
In 11 games this season, Northern Colorado has made as many or more free throws than its opponents has attempted. The Bears are 8-3 in those contests and did so in both games at home over the weekend.
The Bears, being as young as they are, find certain comfort in playing in front of a home crowd. Northern Colorado averaged 72.4 points and holding opponents to 61.3 per game at home, while scoring just 59.6 points and allowing 70.1 on the road. The difference is 12.8 more points scored and 8.8 fewer points allowed while in Butler-Hancock.
Stoermer Steals The Show
Sophomore guard Courtney Stoermer tallied nine steals against Northern Arizona. It is the NC Division I era school record, breaking her own record of six from earlier this year at Eastern Washington and Amber Elliott from 2003. Her total is also the second-highest ever in Northern Colorado and Big Sky Conference history. It is also the second-highest total in NCAA Division I this season as four players have recorded 10 in a game in 2008-09.
First To 30
Junior guard Whitley Cox became just the fourth player at Northern Colorado in the Division I era to notch 30 or more points in a game. It was also the 15th time in her career she has scored 20 or more points in a game. The most points scored in a game came in the finale last season as Danielle Hagen scored 37 against Portland State in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference Tournament.
Sophomore guard Courtney Stoermer needs just four assists to record 200 in her career, while sophomore forward Kate Kevorken is 17 rebounds shy of 300. Junior guard Whitley Cox needs 12 more free throws to tie for third on the NC career charts with 258, while junior guard Lizzie Cooper is 14 points shy of 200 for her career at Northern Colorado. Freshman forward Kaisha Brown is one point shy of 150, while fellow freshman Cassie Lambrecht is nine shy of the same milestone.
The trio of Kate Kevorken (49), Courtney Stoermer (38) and Kaisha Brown (36) are dangerous from the outside. The three players have combined to make 123 three-pointers on the year, just 12 less than the Bears' opposition. Three other players, Lizzie Cooper, Cassie Lambrecht and Jamie Schroeder have all sunk 15 or more triples this season, aiding the Bears in making 180 for a league-leading 6.9 per game. The Northern Colorado single season record for three-pointers made is 265. The trio are averaging 4.73 three-pointers per game, which would rank them among the top half of all Division I teams.
That's A C For All You Romans
The win against Weber State marked the program's 500th all-time victory, and the record since 1974 is now 505-497. The Bears defeated the Wildcats 66-53 to hit the milestone in the 35th season of women's basketball.
What An Honor
Sophomore guard Courtney Stoermer became the first Bear this season to be named the Big Sky player of the week, earning the award after scoring a career-best 24 points against Johnson & Wales. Stoermer hit 5-of-6 from beyond the arc and established a new Division I program record, shooting .900 (9-of-10) from the field. She also tallied two steals, three assists, two blocked shots and two rebounds in just 23 minutes of play. This is the first career award for Stoermer.
Sophomore guard Courtney Stoermer was named to the odwalla Classic All-Tournament team after averaging 15.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, while shooting .563 (9-16) from the floor and .818 (9-11) from the free throw line.
Among The Best
Through games played Feb. 8, Northern Colorado ranks 22nd in three-pointers made per game (7.0), 54th in three-point field goal percentage (.346) and 69th in turnovers per game (16.4).
Northern Colorado topped the century mark in scoring for just the 15th time in school history and the first time since 2002-03 when they scored 101 against San Jose State. The last time the Bears scored over 100 was 103 against NYIT on Dec. 6, 2003. The school record for points in a game is 115 against Norwich on Jan. 5, 1998.
The Long Ball
Northern Colorado shot .579 from beyond the arc against Air Force, establishing a new school record for three-point field goal percentage (in the Division I era). The Bears made 11-of-19, breaking the old record of .531 (17-32) at Hastings College on Feb. 5, 2004 (minimum 10 makes). Six different Bears made at least one triple.
Northern Colorado has now made at least one three-pointer in 233 consecutive games, dating all the way back to Jan. 20, 2001 at South Dakota State.
Putting It In Writing
Head Coach Jaime White signed Jayne Strand to a National Letter of Intent recently. As a freshman at Kirkwood Community College, Strand averaged five points and 4.2 rebounds per game in helping the team to the Junior College National Championship. She was a three-sport athlete for the Cyclones of Ames HS, earning four letters in cross country and three each in soccer and basketball. She was a three-time all-conference selection in cross country and an honorable mention all-conference pick in basketball as a senior. She was also a multiple time honor roll selection and a two-time academic all-conference pick.