Rocky Mountain College’s women had the Frontier Conference’s top scoring offense, while Montana State-Northern sported the league’s stingiest defense.
Offense won out Saturday night.
Brittany Kumm drilled five second-half 3-pointers en route to a game-high 17 points, Alli Blake added 15 points and the Battlin’ Bears played some tenacious defense, too, in beating the Skylights 61-38 on First Interstate Bank Court at Fortin Center.
Kumm, a 5-foot-4 sophomore guard from Great Falls, helped Rocky secure the final outcome by knocking down her five threes during a smooth, nine-minute stretch midway through the second half where the Bears were moving the ball well on offense.
Kumm’s first 3-pointer put Rocky up 35-19 with 13:50 to play. Her fifth of the half made it 56-29 with 4:52 remaining.
“My teammates knew that I was on and they were giving me the ball,” she said with a smile. “I was just hitting them.”
Rocky came into the game averaging 72.7 points, while Northern was just allowing 54.2.
“It was as complete a game as we’ve had to this date,” a pleased Rocky coach Brian Henderson said afterward.
In the nightcap, Northern’s men, ranked 12th in the NAIA Top 25 and No. 1 for defense, also nailed 14 3-pointers in downing Rocky, 73-45.
The Lights led 31-21 at halftime — and then hit their first seven shots — including five 3-pointers — to lead 50-29 just 5 1/2 minutes into the second half.
“Near-perfect, honestly,” Northern coach Shawn Huse said of his team’s performance. “We just weren’t going to be denied tonight. I think what you saw tonight was more of a result of the frustration we felt after the Carroll loss” in overtime on Thursday.
Northern men 73,
While the league-leading Lights, 4-1 and 18-3, never trailed, they put the game away with their barrage of threes early in the second half.
During the 7-for-7 run, LaVon Myers connected on three of his five 3-pointers and Devin Jackson added two.
Northern shot 59 percent from the field after halftime, including 8 of 11 from 3-point territory.
That shooting, coupled with the Lights’ usual physical defense and aggressive rebounding offensively and defensively, was simply too much for the Bears (2-3, 9-11).
“Shawn's teams always perform well, in big games especially,” Rocky coach Bill Dreikosen said. “Their defense was excellent tonight.”
The Lights came into the game allowing just 56.2 points per outing.
Rocky, which fell behind by as many as 34 points (69-35), shot just 29 percent in the second half and 35 percent overall.
“We just turned the ball over too much (8 times) in the first half,” Dreikosen said. “We cut that off in the second half, but our shooting percentage this weekend was just atrocious. We can’t find the basket right now in the paint.”
Myers led the Lights with 19 points. Shaun Tatarka, who had four of his five threes in the first half, wound up with 15 points.
Northern shot 14 of 27 on 3-pointers.
Rocky was led by the 11 points of Matt Fogarty and Sergio Trocha’s 11 rebounds.
Rocky women 61,
The Bears (3-2, 14-6) trailed the Skylights (2-3, 15-4) 9-2 early, but then outscored Northern 26-6 to build a 28-15 advantage by halftime.
Northern, after shooting 24 percent in the first half, missed its first six shots of the second, and never got any closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
“Our man defense was strong, so was our help-side defense,” Kumm said. “We were just getting after it and getting in their faces.”
On top of that, Rocky shot 52 percent from the field in the first half.
The 5-11 Blake tormented the Skylights inside by tallying 11 of her 15 points in the opening 20 minutes. She also ended the night with five assists and four steals.
Teammate Haleigh Crnkovich also hit a huge 3-pointer as the Bears heated up late in the first half, but Kumm was the long-range sensation in the second.
Rocky, hustling on defense as usual, applied constant pressure and challenged nearly every shot. Austin Hanser’s nine rebounds also helped Rocky to a 37-32 edge on the boards.
Northern shot just 26 percent on the night and had 20 turnovers. The Skylights, normally tough from 3-point range, went 0 for 10 against the Bears.
Laramie Schwenke’s 11 points were high for Northern.