March 16, 2013

Women's basketball loses championship game

By HEATHER KENNEDY
UNCBears.com

MISSOULA, Mont. – Playing in its second-straight Big Sky Conference Championship, the Northern Colorado Women's Basketball team couldn't overcome a quick start by the Montana Lady Griz and lost 56-43.

Both senior forward Lauren Oosdyke (Coto de Caza, Calif.) and junior guard D'shara Strange (Fort Carson, Colo.) were honored for their efforts throughout the three games of the championship, getting named to the Big Sky All-Tournament team. In Saturday's final, Strange led the team with 12 points and four steals, while Oosdyke had six points, seven rebounds and an assist, block and steal.

Senior guard Victoria Timm (Haxtun, Colo.) also scored in double figures with 10 and sophomore guard Lindsay Mallon (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) led the Bears with eight rebounds.

Head Coach Jaime White talked before the tournament about how the team needed not just the usual suspects to step up, but also an unusual suspect or two and in the championship game that was junior Kim Lockridge (Littleton, Colo.). Lockridge came off the bench to score seven points, grab three rebounds and swipe two balls. Her defensive presence in the paint also wreaked havoc on the Lady Griz, but doesn't necessarily show up in the statistics.

The Lady Griz (24-7) had an outstanding night at the free throw line, making 20-of-21 to keep the Bears (20-12) at arm's length the whole night.

Montana built an 18-point lead with 16:53 remaining in the game, 36-18, but the Bears defense buckled down and cut the deficit to 10, 38-28 on a jumper by Timm, but they couldn't get any closer.

Sophomore center Stephanie Lee (Casper, Wyo.) blocked two shots in the game, giving her seven in the championship, which ties for the eighth-most in a single tournament in Big Sky history.

Northern Colorado's defense held the Lady Griz to just .273 shooting, their third-lowest shooting percentage of the season. In Greeley earlier this year, the Bears held UM to just .271, while Temple kept them at .263 back on Nov. 9.

It seemed every time the Bears came up with a big stop, Montana answered with one of its own, forcing the Bears into 18 turnovers and .319 shooting from the floor.

Northern Colorado earns the Big Sky Conference's automatic berth into the WNIT and will find out late Monday who they face. Stay tuned to uncbears.com for more details.