The University of Montana Western women’s basketball team had a five game winning streak entering their games this week. The Bulldogs hosted MSU-Northern on Thursday night and won by a score of 70-58. The women turned their focus to the Argos from Great falls on Saturday and were unable to continue their hot streak as they lost by a score of 63-83.
On Thursday night the women from Montana Western welcomed the MSU-Northern Skylights in a Frontier Conference game that had large tournament implications. The Bulldogs were one game behind the Skylights in the conference standings and needing a big weekend to stay on track to host a first round game in the conference tournament.
The UMW women jumped out to a nine point half-time lead, 37-28, and continued to execute their defensive game-plan by taking away the inside game of MSU-Northern and forcing 14 turnovers throughout the game. Montana Western came away with a big 70-58 win to pull even with MSU-Northern for third place in the Frontier Conference.
“I really thought we played one of our more complete games of the year,” said head coach Lindsay Woolley. “We executed our offensive and defensive game plan very well and made some timely baskets in the second half when they had cut our lead to single digits. Our bench gave us some huge contributions once again with Rosie O’Brien hitting a big shot and Baylie Smith getting some easy baskets in transition.”
MSU-Northern was led by Natalee Faupel who had 17 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. A’Jha Edwards was held to ten points and Rachelle Bennett had 14 points. The Bulldogs were led by Sammi Bignell’s 20 points and six rebounds. Roxy Thurman had 15 points and six rebounds. Thurman was 11-for-12 from the free-throw line on the night. Jenna Banks had ten points and three assists in the win. The UMW women had 15 assists to only eight turnovers on the night.
The women from Montana Western then took on UGF on Saturday night riding a six game win streak. The Bulldogs came out on senior night and struggled from the field, as they shot only 35 percent to the Argos 51 percent from the field.
“We didn’t do a very good job with our defensive game plan for them and it showed. I take full responsibility for that and it was unfortunate we couldn’t send our seniors out on a better note,” said Coach Woolley. “UGF was clearly the better team on Saturday and they are playing very well right now. I certainly don’t want to play them again.”
UGF had five players score in double digits. They were led by Lindsay Abramson and Taylor Statton who had 16 points apiece. Darah Huertas-Vining had 15 points, Erin Legel added 14 points, and Mary Wilmore added 13 points. The Argos shot nearly 90 percent from the free-throw line on the night. The Bulldogs were led by Sammi Bignell who had 18 points, while going 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. She added seven rebounds and four assists. Fellow senior Roxy Thurman had 13 points, while Jenna Banks added 12 points and four assists for the game.
Montana State-Northern and Montana Western are both 8-6 in conference play and currently tied for third place, with two games remaining. The Bulldogs hit the road for their final two games of the regular season currently sitting two games in front of fifth place Carroll College. The UMW women need one win out of their two final games to ensure a first round home game in the conference tournament. On Thursday the Montana Western team travels to Butte to take on Montana Tech at 5:30 p.m. and then head to Idaho to take on Lewis-Clark at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.