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UMW News Bureau

The University of Montana Western Bulldogs men’s and women’s basketball teams will travel north to Montana State University-Northern (MSU-Northern) and the University of Great Falls (UGF) for games on Friday, Feb. 11 and Saturday, Feb. 12. By Brett Morehouse & Lowell Peterson The University of Montana Western men’s and women’s Bulldog basketball teams will travel north to Montana State University-Northern (MSU-Northern) and the University of Great Falls (UGF) for games on Friday, Feb. 11 and Saturday, Feb. 12. The men will hit the road after two big wins at home while the women will be seeking to bounce back from two weekend losses. After beating Westminster College and Lewis-Clark State College last weekend, the Montana Western men moved to the top of the Frontier Conference standings at 6-3, 18-6 overall. The record is good enough for a half-game lead over Friday night opponent MSU-Northern and Carroll College, who both sit at 5-3 in conference play. The MSU-Northern Skylights are 16-7 overall on the season. The Bulldogs are now 19th in the seventh regular-season edition of the 2010-11 NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll.   Westminster sits alone in the conference in fourth place at 5-4, just one game out of first place. Lewis-Clark State and Montana Tech are tied for fifth at 4-5. Rocky Mountain College (3-5) and the University of Great Falls (2-6) round out the standings.   With teams having either five or six games left to play in conference action, all spots in the final standings are up for grabs. Every game the rest of the way is a key game in one of the most competitive seasons in Frontier Conference men’s basketball history.   Rocky Mountain travels to Westminster and Carroll to Lewis-Clark on Thursday for two key conference match-ups. The visiting teams swap opponents on Saturday, Feb. 12. Montana Tech plays UGF on Friday, Feb. 11 before visiting MSU-Northern on Saturday.   The Bulldogs face a big challenge against MSU-Northern on Friday. The Lights are undefeated at home this year with an impressive 10-0 record, and wins at Armory Gymnasium are hard to come by for any opponent year after year.   The Lights have three players scoring in double figures on the year. Shaun Tatarka, the only Montana native on the active roster, leads the way at 13.6 points per game. Close behind are Devin Jackson at 13.0 and LaVon Myers at 11.7. The Lights average 72.7 points per game while giving up just 60.2, the best in the Frontier Conference. Montana Western is second in scoring average at 76.1 a game and third in defense at 66.1.   The Bulldogs also have three players scoring in double figures on the season. Brandon Brown, the conference scoring leader, averages 18.9 points a game. Cody Thueringer averages 15.7, good for fifth in the conference, and Tyler Hurley averages 11.0. Brown also tops the conference in assist per game at 5.2.   The University of Great Falls is led in scoring by Mark Celaya at 13.7 points per game. Two other Argos score in double figures on the season: L.J. Jones with 12.0 and Melvin Williams with 10.7. As a team UGF is scoring 72.3 points per game while giving up 69.5. The Bulldogs face MSU-Northern in Havre, Mont. at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 11. The Bulldogs then head to Great Falls, Mont. to take on the UGF Argonauts on Saturday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. + The University of Montana Western women’s Basketball team will begin a critical three-game road stretch with their visits to MSU-Northern and the University of Great Falls this weekend. The Bulldogs then face Montana Tech in Butte on Feb. 19. All three teams will be significant within the Frontier Conference standings as just 1.5 games separate sixth-place MSU-Northern from eighth-place Montana Western. The Bulldogs split an earlier home series, losing to the UGF Argonauts by eight before bouncing back to defeat MSU-Northern by 11. With their victory over UGF last Saturday night, MSU-Northern moved to 3-5 in conference play and 12-12 overall. The Skylights are led in scoring by Samm Schermele who is averaging 21 points per game through eight conference contests. Other important contributors include Laramie Schwenke, who adds 10.3 points per game (PPG) and a team-leading 5.5 rebounds per game (RPG), and Courtney Blume, who pulls down five RPG to go along with a 9.8-point scoring average. The Argonauts currently stand at 9-14 overall and 2-6 in the Frontier Conference. Through eight conference contests, the Argonauts have featured a balanced scoring attack led by freshman Sarah Sciascia (16.4 PPG) and junior Kezia Ford (14.4 PPG). Other important players include posts Jamie Young (11.1 PPG/7.6 RPG) and Marissa Skogen (9.3 PPG/5.4 RPG). After dropping two home games to nationally ranked teams, the Montana Western Bulldogs find themselves at 2-7 in conference and 6-15 overall. Montana Western continues to be led in scoring by freshman guard Sammi Bignell, who averages 18 points per game in Frontier Conference play. Hayley Pettit, the leading rebounder in the Frontier Conference with an 11.3 average, also contributes 12.4 points per contest. Montana Western will also look to their lone upperclassmen, junior Nicole Tams and senior Chloe Mosey, for continued production. The two combined for 51 points during last weekend’s play against Westminster and Lewis-Clark State. Friday night’s contest in Havre against the Skylights is scheduled to tip at 6 p.m. while Saturday’s game at the University of Great Falls is scheduled to tip at 5:30 p.m.