Women's basketball hangs tough for third conference win
GREELEY, Colo. – Eastern Washington made a late run, but the Northern Colorado women's basketball team hung tough in an extremely physical game to win 75-68 on Saturday afternoon in Butler-Hancock. The Bears (8-9, 3-1 BSC) made 13 of their final 14 free throws over the final five minutes of the game to improve to 3-1 in the Big Sky for just the second time in school history.
A three-pointer by EWU senior Tatjana Sparavalo with 5:02 remaining in the game cut the Bears lead to five, 57-52, but senior guard Courtney Stoermer answered with a three-pointer of her own and free throws stretched the lead back to 13, 67-54 with 2:09 on the clock as the Bears won their fifth game in six outings.
"I was happy with our free throw shooting tonight," said Head Coach Jaime White. "We got fouled late and stepped up and made them. Lauren (Oosdyke) was 10-for-12 and Kaisha (Brown) was 6-for-6.
Stoermer led the team with a season-high 17 points and a season-best seven assists. The game for the senior was one for the record books as she moved into second all-time with 367 assists, moving her past Jenny Gallagher (1994-97) who had 361. Stoermer's two steals also give her 189 for her career, which ties Renee L'Heureux (1981-85) for the all-time record. Stoermer also scored her 1,200th career point in the game (1,202) and is now tied for second all-time with 106 career starts.
"I thought Courtney was focused on her shot and didn't force it," said White. "She got into gaps and knocked them down. I also thought Courtney did a good job defending. We had her on Chene Cooper and she did a great job that way. It's not just about playing hard, it's about playing smart and she was smart and hard tonight."
Three other players were in double figures in scoring for the Bears as freshman forward Kim Lockridge came off the bench to score 15, Oosdyke scored 15 and Brown tallied the first double-double of her career with 11 points and 10 rebounds, tying her career-best in boards from Thursday evening's win over Portland State.
Oosdyke and Lockridge also each had four steals and senior center Brittany Fernandez had three blocked shots.
"Kaisha had a good night again with 10 rebounds again and 11 points, which is really nice," said White. "I thought the game went in spurts; we were brilliant at times and not so brilliant at others. I think we're continuing to learn and I felt like our starting five did a good job but I felt like we needed a little more help off the bench tonight.
Fernandez added eight points in the game for the Bears, just three off her career high on 4-of-6 shooting from the field to go along with her three blocks.
"Brittany is so strong inside. If she gets position she can score over or through anybody and it's really hard to get position on her. Brittany's playing the way we need her to we just wish she could play a little bit longer, she's struggling with some asthma issues but she's doing a good job and exactly what we need her to do when we need her to do it."
In the first four conference games, Northern Colorado has defeated each of the top three picks in both the coaches and media Big Sky preseason polls, beating #1 Montana, #2 Eastern Washington and #3 Portland State. The Bears were picked eighth in both polls but currently sit in third place with a 3-1 mark. Montana State sits in first with a record of 3-0, while Idaho State is 2-0.
The Bears continue their home stretch, hosting Sacramento State on Thursday at 7:05 pm. The team then heads to Utah for a Saturday matinee at Weber State.