Week 1: Women’s Frontier Basketball takeaways
Welcome to another wild weekend in the Frontier Conference. Let's start with the Women's standings after week 1:
UM Western 1-1
Montana Tech 0-2
MSU Northern 0-2
The women’s side of the equation started with 3 teams ranked in the top 30. Carroll College the highest at #9 in the country, Western at #21, and Rocky Mountain College at #29. The game of the week had Carroll hosting the Bulldogs of UM Western in their opener. Both teams shot the lights out in the first 10 minutes, as the Saints led 20-15. Carroll was led by Kamden Hilborn with 15 in the first quarter (she finished with a game-high 25) Going into the 4th quarter the Bulldogs trailed by 17 but were able to cut the lead to 1 in the 4th. Unfortunately for the Dogs, Carroll was able to end the game on an 11-0 run to win 72-61. Hilborn’s 25 was a career-high mark.
In their second game of the regular season, the Saints were able to get a big win on the road over MSU-Northern. Carroll led by 5 at the half and were able to extend that in the second half, not allowing the Lights to score in double digits in either the 3rd or 4th quarter. Kyndall Keller led the Saints with 24 points.
The Bears of Rocky went 2-0 on the weekend with a gritty win at Tech on Thursday, and nice win over Providence at home. Against the Orediggers neither team could manufacture any sustained offense in the first half. In the second half, the Bears were able to get some balance and outscore Montana Tech by 10 in the 3rd, and then hold on for the win in Butte 59-42. Gracie Lekvold led the Bears with 14, Morgan Baird had a great game with 13 in the block. On Saturday, the Argos made a great run In the 4th to try and steal one on the road. The Bears led 41-31 to start the 4th, and then the Argos got after it, outscoring the Bears 15-7 in the final frame, just coming up 2 points short falling 48-46 in Billings. Kloie Thatcher led the Bears with 17, and Mackenzie Dethman had 16. For Providence, Maddy Dixon knocked down 22.
Continuing for Providence, the big thing jumping off the page at me is the bench. In their loss to Rocky they didn’t get a point off their bench. In their win on Thursday at Northern they only had 4 points from their reserves. That said they did get 3 ladies into double digits Thursday, Reed Hazard with 18, Maddy Dixon with 14, and Cartwright with 12. A good start for the Argos, but they are going to need much more from their bench.
UM Western entered the week nationally ranked at #21. Coach Wooley returns a real solid group of players, and his bench depth is better than a year ago. In the Carroll loss, they made one heck of a run late, but just couldn’t keep up the momentum to the wire, 4 of their 5 starters went into double digits in that loss, and remember they will play AT LEAST 2 more times. In the win over Tech the Bulldogs were able to handle huge momentum swings. Western trailed by 10 after 1 and then outscored Tech 32-9 in the second quarter. Tech made a great run in the 4th, but Western was able to shut it down and get the win 73-67 in Dillon. Brynley Fitzgerald led all scorers with 26 and 8 rebounds.
Let’s continue that thread to Montana Tech, They also responded well to the huge swings against Western. The other bonus coming in this loss, was the big game from Tavia Rooney. Tavia finished with 23 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 steals. Tech isn’t going to win games without Rooney playing like only Tavia can. Tech is 0-2 after the first weekend of play, but had opportunities in both losses, and played extremely hard for new head coach Jeff Graham. We have all heard this statement, and probably have all said it at least once in the last week, but Montana Tech’s women just need to learn how to win, and they will.
The Skylights of MSU Northern also started opening weekend at 0-2, falling 66-59 to Providence in Great Falls, and 68-49 at Carroll College. Down 17 at the half to Providence, Northern fought back hard in the second half but just couldn’t get over the hump at the end. McCullough led the lights with 22 in that game. Coach Mouat got good help from his reserves, as Hansen and Krass both got into double digits coming off the bench. McCullough had a monster of a game against Carroll too, and she finished with 24 and 6 rebounds. Northern was just unable to get anyone else going, as Ryley Kehr was the next-highest scorer with 9 points.
We have one week of conference games in the books, giving everyone a little better ‘sense of self’. We will back away from conference for a full month, as January 5th will be the next conference tilts. So buckle in, the next couple of months could be interesting.