February 11, 2012

Overtime win clinches Big Sky Playoff spot for women

MISSOULA, Mont. – Kaisha Brown and Lauren Oosdyke hit back-to-back three-pointers to start the game and the Northern Colorado women's basketball team never trailed at Montana and the game was tied just once, but that happened to be at the end of regulation, 52-52.

Sophomore guard D'shara Strange scored all four of the Bears (15-10, 7-5 Big Sky) points in overtime to give the Bears the 56-54 win and clinch a Big Sky Tournament spot for the second-straight year.

"It doesn't matter what it looks like," said Head Coach Jaime White. "A win is a win. Our kids played with a toughness they haven't had in the past, in an extremely hard environment. We kept pounding away and even though we made a couple of mistakes at the end – some fouls maybe we didn't need to commit –it was a good day."

Montana (14-11, 7-5 Big Sky) scored six of the last eight points in the second half to force overtime, but they made just 1-of-8 in the extra stanza.

"The first half was really good," said White. "We came out and stifled them and I think it brought back memories from Greeley. In the second half we relaxed in certain areas but the best part about it was we had a dip but Kaisha hits a big three, and gets that huge layup or D('shara) gets that layup on the opening tip to get us out of it."

Strange led the team with 19 points, while Oosdyke had her second straight double-double with 10 points and a career-high tying 13 rebounds and Brown also scored in double figures with 13. Strange also played the entire game, logging 45 minutes, getting nine rebounds and a game-high four steals.

"D relieved the pressure on the inside," said White. "She did a good job of attacking the basket, better than she'd done in a while. I'm really proud of her. "

Oosdyke's 10 points give her 1,012 for her career, moving her into 15th on the Northern Colorado career scoring charts, past Danielle Hagen (2003-08), who scored 1,008.

Northern Colorado continued its rebounding streak, grabbing four more than the Lady Griz, 43-39. The Bears have now out-rebounded 11 of 12 opponents in Big Sky games this season.

"We played a well-thought game," said Oosdyke. "We had a great lead in the first half and we knew Montana would hit shots and make a run, but we stayed composed and we played really, really hard and never gave up."

The win completed the team's first-ever season sweep over Montana and was the second-straight in Missoula.

"Winning at Montana is always big," said Oosdyke. "They have a great crowd and we knew that this was a big game and we knew what was on the line in the Big Sky Conference Tournament."

The Bears now return home for a tilt against arguably the hottest team in the league in Eastern Washington. The Eagles have won six in a row and their last loss came against the Bears, 56-53 back on Jan. 14. Tipoff is slated for 7:05 pm in Butler-Hancock.