January 29, 2011

Women sit in first place after win over Weber State

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GREELEY, Colo. – First place. That's where the Northern Colorado women's basketball team sits after a 67-49 victory over Weber State on Saturday afternoon.

The Bears (12-9, 7-1 Big Sky) won their 10th straight game at home and their sixth game overall, and combined with a Montana State one-point loss to Montana (56-55), gives Northern Colorado the top spot in the Big Sky standings for the first time ever. The Bears also surpassed last year's conference win total with their seventh victory this afternoon, as the 2009-10 team was 6-10 in league play.

Freshman guard D'shara Strange had arguably her best game in the blue & gold, scoring a career-best 19 points, led the team with seven rebounds and tallied no turnovers in 34 minutes of play.

"Today, we pounded the ball inside to (D'shara)," said Head Coach Jaime White. "We isolated her in the post a little bit and there were times where she attacked the basket."

Senior guard Courtney Stoermer was also in double figures in points with 10 points. She also had four assists and three steals and did not commit a turnover as the team had a season-low 13 in the win.

Stoermer also had the turning point of the game. Weber State (5-13, 1-5 Big Sky) cut the lead to five, 31-26 with 19:19 to play in the second half and with the shot clock at two, junior forward Kaisha Brown lobbed the in-bounds pass to the top of the arc, where Stoermer caught the ball and shot a three-pointer that barely moved the net to increase the lead back to eight. The Wildcats scored the next basket, but the Bears went on a 17-0 run over the next 8:11 to build a 23-point advantage, 51-28 with 8:48 to play.

"I didn't realize we were on a run like that," said White. "We took it one possession at a time, in stride and we weren't forcing what we didn't have but taking advantage of what we did have."

Senior forward Jayne Strand also had one of her best games for Northern Colorado as she had eight points on perfect 4-for-4 shooting and had a team-best five steals, more than doubling her previous career-high of two. Brown led the team with five assists to lead all players and she hit one three-pointer, moving her into sole possession of sixth-place in NC history with 130.

The win gives the Bears their first-ever season sweep of the Wildcats and their third straight victory over Weber State for the 10-9 advantage in the all-time series.

WSU was led by Mikell Woodfield with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Caitlin Anderson scored 12 and Justine Johnson had four assists.

The Bears now hit the road for a pair of road games, playing at Eastern Washington on Thursday and at Portland State on Saturday.

"We wanted to use our home games for was to get better, to really get seasoned and ready for the road," said White. "Really, it shows you what you're made of when you win on the road. We've already had a good couple of road trips so I'm excited to get back out there. It's going to be a challenge, but I think our kids are ready for it."