Women's basketball drops semifinal game to Montana
PORTLAND, Ore. – In a season where the Northern Colorado women's basketball wasn't even supposed to make the Big Sky Conference Tournament according to the coaches, the team battled through to win a share of the regular season title, but were upset by fourth-seeded Montana in the semifinals of the tournament, 55-46.
The Bears now have a 17-13 overall record, while the Lady Griz advance to the finals and are 17-14. Northern Colorado now awaits what happens in the rest of the tournament to see its post-season future.
Freshmen Kim Lockridge and D'shara Strange combined to score 21 of the team's 46 points. Lockridge led the team with 11 points, while Strange had 10 points, six rebounds and seven steals. Sophomore Victoria Timm also tied the team lead with six rebounds in just 11 minutes of play.
"We did exactly what we wanted to do and made some nice passes early," said Head Coach Jaime White. "We got the ball inside, but good teams are going to change, and they (Montana) did a good job changing. We missed a couple in a row and they didn't, they came down and started scoring. All of a sudden the score was 17-17 and all of a sudden we stopped being as aggressive as we needed to be.''
Montana was led by Stephanie Stender, who had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Katie Baker came off the bench to score 16 and for the second time this season she went a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line against the Bears. Kenzie DeBoer also chipped in 10 points. Jordan Sullivan came off the bench to lead the team with four assists and Jessa Linford had three steals.
Sophomore forward Lauren Oosdyke made 5-of-6 from the free throw line, giving her 114 for the season which moves her into fifth on the school's all-time single-season list. It also brings her career free throw total to 224 to move her into ninth on the career lists.
Senior guard Courtney Stoermer had four assists in the game, bringing her season total to 120 which is 11th best in school history.
Strange tied her career-high with seven steals, giving her 73 for the year which is the second-best total in school history and is a new Division I record, breaking the previous mark of 68 by Stoermer from 2008-09.
The Bears, for the second-straight game, were out-rebounded (38-28). Northern Colorado forced Montana into 24 turnovers with the press, and scored 26 points off turnovers. However, they shot just .346 from the field and .143 from the three-point line as well as struggling from the free throw line again, connecting on just .533 from the free throw line (8-for-15).
"When you look at the stats, the same things that hurt us against Idaho State hurt us tonight," said White. "We got out-rebounded and we missed our free throws. It seems like that has been the formula that hurt us. But, give a lot of credit to our kids. I think they've had a great year. It's hard to possibly be ending like this with two losses. Hopefully it stings enough to bring us back next year.''