March 5, 2010

Bears Use Free Throws To Hang On For Win

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GREELEY, Colo. - For the second-game in a row, the opponent came out frantic in the second half, but this time the Northern Colorado women's basketball team responded late and held on for the win, defeating Montana State 70-68.

With seven seconds remaining, Montana State (15-13, 8-7 BSC) had the entire length of the floor to drive, trailing by two. Northern Colorado junior guard Courtney Stoermer batted a pass out of bounds just past half court with three ticks left and then freshman forward Lauren Oosdyke grabbed the inbounds lob pass to preserve the team's 14th victory of the year.

The Bears (14-16, 6-9 BSC) hit 80 percent of their free throws in the second half (16-for-20), helping make up for the .273 (6-for-22) they shot from the floor.

"We made some key free throws," said Head Coach Jaime White. "And that's not always characteristic of us. We shoot better free throws at home, but I thought Courtney Stoermer stepped up - going 7-for-7 from the line and Brittany Fernandez, just to hit one of those two was big also."

Stoermer led the team in scoring with 16 points, marking the first time this year the team has won with her having the most points (1-4). Senior guard Whitley Cox scored 14 points, while Oosdyke added 12 and junior forward Jayne Strand came off the bench to chip in 11. Cox also led the team with seven rebounds, while Stoermer had three assists and two blocked shots.

"I thought (Whitley) played great," said White. "Especially those last four minutes when she got put back in. She got seven rebounds and really a lot of times those rebounds will turn into layups."

Freshman guard Victoria Timm has tallied at least one steal in the last seven games and led the game with three thefts.

 "I thought we pushed transition early in the first half," said White. "I thought we played a good first half and gave ourselves a little bit of a cushion there. We had some kids off the bench play well, Jayne Strand played really good. She really did a good job and it was a great team effort. To have four players score in double digits and have everyone else that played scored was good and we kept our turnovers down."

Montana State forward Sarah Strand led the game with 22 points, while senior guard Erica Perry added 17 and sophomore guard Katie Bussey led the game with 10 rebounds. Strand and Ashley Albert also each had three blocked shots on the night.

Stoermer's 16 points move her up one more spot on the career scoring chart, giving her 1,032 points for 12th, as she passes Jenny Gallagher (1994-97) with 1,030. Oosdyke went 2-for-2 from the free throw line, making her just the eighth player in school history to sink 100 in a single season, while Stoermer is right behind her with 99 made.

Both Stoermer and Jayne Strand had 10 points and two assists in the first half to tie for team honors. Strand also led the game with six rebounds. The Bears made half of their shots in the opening 20 minutes, making 15-of-30 from the floor and were .600 from the free throw line.

The Bears also had just four turnovers in the first half, while the Bobcats had seven.

Northern Colorado did not make a field goal in the second half until the 11:15 mark, missing its first nine shots from the field as Timm stopped the streak with a baseline jumper.

"This is a credit to our kids," said White. "They could have just rolled over and said we're done and I thought we really played hard. It will be interesting to see us play Montana on Saturday. It's been a goal of ours to beat Montana and end our year on a positive note."

The Bears play their final game of the season on Saturday as they host the Montana Lady Griz at 7:05 p.m. The game is senior night and both Cox and Lizzie Cooper will be honored prior to the start.