GREELEY, Colo. – The Northern Colorado women's basketball team mounted a furious comeback in the second half after trailing 45-30 with 15:08 to play, but Montana was able to make two free throws in the final 26 seconds for the 53-51 victory.
The Bears (14-11, 9-3 Big Sky) used a 14-0 scoring run to pull within one, 45-44 with 8:38 to play on a Kim Lockridge jumper and with 3:05 remaining, took their first lead since early in the first half with two free throws by D'shara Strange, 49-47. The Lady Griz (13-11, 8-3 Big Sky) went to the free throw line nine times in the final 2:52 to seal their eighth win of the year in league play.
Strange sparked the Northern Colorado comeback with back-to-back steals for fast-break layups and ended the game with a team-best 13 points (10 coming after the break) and four steals. Courtney Stoermer led all players with 10 rebounds, a season-high for the senior guard. She also added eight points, four assists and two steals in the game.
"We made a run in the second half," said Head Coach Jaime White. "I thought we did a great job defensively. D'shara got some great steals and did a good job of getting us an opportunity to win the game."
Stoermer started in her 114th game for Northern Colorado on Saturday, breaking the previous school record of 113 career starts by Danielle Hagen (2003-08). Stoermer also recorded her 400th career assist and 200th career steal in the ballgame.
"If you look at our scoring, it's unlikely for us to have only one player in double figures," said White. "We could have done ourselves a favor and not dug a hole in the first half. We did a good job on our dribble pull-ups but didn't score as much inside as we did when we won in Missoula."
The Bears held Montana to just 17 second-half points and forced them into 13 turnovers after UM had just five in the first half. NC also out-rebounded UM in the game, 36-to-34 with the margin 23-to-17 in the second stanza.
The loss drops Northern Colorado back into second place in the Big Sky Conference standings as Montana State won at Sacramento State. The Bears hold a half-game lead over the Lady Griz, who are in third.
"This is going to be a tough loss but we've got a week to regroup and recognize some of the things we need to get better at. We have some time to prepare and regroup a little bit. The rest of the season is just as important as these two games this weekend."
Northern Colorado plays just once next week, playing at Sacramento State on Saturday at 3:05 pm Mountain.