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BIG SKY CONFERENCE WOMEN'S BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK: Bears give coach sweet birthday gift

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It's a real bear to win on the road in the Big Sky women's basketball conference.

As in Northern Colorado Bears. A strong first-half performance and free throws down the stretch helped lead the Greeley-based team to a stunning 61-56 home victory over first-place Portland State on Saturday.

It was the Bears' third straight win in conference play, making them the hottest team in the league.

Senior center Danielle Hagen scored a season-high 20 points and added a game-high 16 rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots. She also hit 8-of-10 from the free-throw line including 5-of-6 in the final 44 seconds.

Junior guard Jamie Schroeder added 17 points, nine rebounds and four steals, while freshman guard Courtney Stoermer chipped in 11 points and a game-high five assists.

"Knocking off the number one team in the conference is huge," Bears coach Jaime White said in a press release. "I think we set a standard in the Big Sky that you can't just come in and walk over us in Butler-Hancock. Courtney Stoermer did a great job guarding Claire Faucher. She knew the game plan and stuck with it."

Stoermer held Faucher, the nation's assists leader, to just two assists.

"Coach White gave me the confidence, and my teammates gave me confidence," Stoermer told the Greeley Tribune. "I know about guarding the point guard. I have the rest of the team behind me to help me out, and they do a great job of that."

Portland State was led by Faucher and Kelly Marchant with 14 points each, while Delaney Conway had a team-high eight rebounds.

"We did a great job defending the high pick," White said. "We also did a great job of rebounding in the first half."

The Vikings scored the first four points of the game, but the Bears went on an 18-point run, giving them an 18-4 lead with 12:27 left in the half. PSU scored on a layup by Kelsey Kahle, but the Bears scored the next five to extend the lead to 23-6 with 10:35 left.

"We came out flat and Northern Colorado came did a good job of coming out with a lot of energy," Portland State coach Sherri Murrell said in a press release.

The Bears held a 32-16 advantage at the break and stretched it to 42-25 with 14:56 left. Portland State chipped away at the lead, coming within 58-56 with 31 ticks left, but the Bears made their free throws.

"We've had games this season where we were able to come back in the second half, but today we weren't able to do that," Murrell said. "I don't like to lose, but maybe this is a good loss, in that we learned we need to come out strong.

"We weren't able to get anything going in the post so we had to rely on our outside shooting."

Portland State shot just 27.7 percent from the field.

In addition to Saturday's win, White also celebrated her birthday.

Doma ties Bengals' scoring king Les Roh

National player of the year candidate Natalie Doma scored a season-high 33 points and tied Les Roh as Idaho State's all-time leading scorer, regardless of gender, in the Bengals' 85-80 win over Montana State on Saturday at Reed Gym. Doma also grabbed 11 rebounds to become the fourth Big Sky player to record 1,000 career rebounds.

After leading for most of the game, the Bengals found themselves trailing 78-77 with 1:56 remaining in the game. Doma worked inside and got to the foul line where she hit four straight to push the Bengals up for good.

Jenna Brown iced the game by hitting four straight for Idaho State. Once again, Doma did much of her damage at the charity stripe going

15-for-19.

"Nobody can guard her one-on-one in this league," Idaho State coach Jon Newlee said in a press release. "They were hacking her like crazy. Good thing she can hit her free throws. If she was Shaq, we'd be in trouble."

Andrea Lightfoot also moved up in the record books. Her 15 points moved her into third place on Idaho State's all-time scoring list for women. She trails only Doma and Dillon native Mandi Carver.

Bianca Cheever got the start at small forward after Devin Diehl missed a shootaround because of the flu. But coach Newlee turned to Diehl late in the game and she made an impact defensively down the stretch.

"She came in and played with so much heart and we needed every second she played today," Newlee said. "Devin came through just like a champion."

Hornets notch first win in Flagstaff

Behind a combined 36 points from their four post players, Sacramento State defeated Northern Arizona for the first time in school history on the road, 62-53, at the Walkup Skydome.

The Hornets also put an end to a 30-game road losing streak dating back to Jan. 19, 2006.

The second half saw the Hornets open with a

10-0 run, which included a 3-pointer by junior Erika Edwards. Northern Arizona clawed away at the lead, cutting the margin to four points on three occasions, including as late as 3:37 remaining in the game.

But the Hornets did the job making free throws, hitting 19-of-21 for the game ( 90.5 percent) and

7-of-8 in the final five minutes of the contest.

The Hornet posts led the way in scoring, but did a majority of their damage from the foul line and from beyond the 3-point arc. Edwards and Becca Reams led the way with 11 points each, with Edwards knocking down 2-of-3 from beyond the

3-point arc and Reams shooting 1-of-2 from downtown.

On the perimeter, Sam Field-Polisso finished with nine points and dished out five assists to just one turnover, while Tika Koshiyama-Diaz scored seven points in a career-high 19 minutes.

Sacramento State outrebounded the Lumberjacks, 41-30, while scoring 25 bench points to the Lumberjacks' seven.

Heringer's career night lifts Bobcats

Billings Central product Jenny Heringer posted a career-high 19 points and Rebecca Mercer hit three consecutive 3-pointers in the waning moments to lift the Montana State women's basketball team to a

77-65 win over Weber State on Thursday at the Dee Events Center.

The win was Montana State's (8-8, 3-1) first at Weber State since a Tracey Sheehan-led squad beat the Wildcats on Jan. 11, 1996.

"We told the team the history of the last MSU win at Weber State during shootaround and I'm very proud of the way they responded," MSU coach Tricia Binford said in a press release.

Heringer, a sophomore, notched 11 of her points in the first stanza. She finished the game shooting

6-of-9 from the field, including three 3-pointers.

"Jenny did an outstanding job creating shots and she really looked to score," Binford said. "And, Rebecca took over the game in final three minutes to help us secure the win."

Mercer, a senior from Perth, Australia, helped the Bobcats break away from a 59-all tie with 3:26 remaining on three consecutive treys and a layup in a span of 1:13 to give MSU a 70-61 advantage.

Montana State will play host to the hottest team in the Big Sky, Northern Colorado, on Thursday at

7 p.m.

Players of the week

Danielle Hagen, Northern Colorado and Natalie Doma, Idaho State: Hagen, a native of Sidney, led the Bears to two conference wins at home last week, including a 61-56 upset over league-leading Portland State on Saturday. Northern Colorado also defeated Eastern Washington 71-57 on Thursday night. Hagen averaged 17.5 points, 12 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, while going 61.1 percent from the field and 85.7 percent from the free-throw line. Doma posted back-to-back 30 point games as the Bengals beat Montana and Montana State at home. In a 90-77 victory over the Lady Griz on Thursday, Doma scored 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. She also went 16-of-16 from the free-throw line, which is the best single game free-throw mark in the country this season. She tallied 33 points on Saturday as the Bengals beat the Bobcats, 85-80.

Quote of the week

'I think we set a standard in the Big Sky that you can't just come in and walk over us in Butler-Hancock (Sports Pavilion).'

- UNC coach Jaime White on Saturday's 61-56 home win over Portland State

Game to watch

Northern Colorado at Montana, Saturday: The Bears are the hottest team in the Big Sky, riding a three-game win streak. Montana is 10-0 at home and shares the conference lead with Idaho State and Portland State, each at 4-1. Northern Colorado will also be 4-1 if it can get past Montana State in Bozeman on Thursday.

Power poll

1 Montana (4-1, 14-4): Lady Griz get important road win at Weber State Saturday and a week to rest before Northern Colorado comes to town for the first of three straight home games.

2 Idaho St. (4-1, 12-5): Bengals connect for 12 threes in impressive win over Montana, then show vulnerability in 85-80 win over Montana State Saturday.

3 Northern Colorado (3-1, 9-8): The hottest team in the Big Sky posted a 61-56 win over Portland State Saturday. The Bears have won three straight league games.

4 Portland State (4-1, 14-4): Although the Vikings were beaten by Northern Colorado on Saturday, they should get back on track this Saturday at home against Eastern Washington.

5 Montana State (3-2, 8-9): Win over Weber State Thursday was first by the Bobcats in Ogden in 12 years. The Cats followed up with a strong showing at Idaho State Saturday.

6 Sac State (2-3, 4-13): Coach Dan Muscatell's troops earned their first-ever win at Northern Arizona Saturday. They also ended a 30-game skid in away games.

7 Weber St. (1-4, 7-10): Wildcats played Montana tough Saturday but couldn't buy a basket in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Their game at Sac State Thursday looms large for both teams.

8 Northern Arizona

(1-4, 5-13): The Lumberjacks have lost nine of their last 10 games, something that hasn't happened to an NAU team since 1993.

9 Eastern Washington (0-5, 3-15): Eagles have lost eight straight games and face tough test at Portland State Saturday.

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