Northern Colorado womens hoops advances to Big Sky semifinals, defeats SUU

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Make it seven straight for the University of Northern Colorado womens basketball team and a chance to play in the Big Sky Conference semifinals. . . No. 4 UNC 13-11, 12-8 Big Sky earned a hard-fought 63-59 win over No. 5 Southern Utah 11-9, 6-5 Big Sky on Tuesday in Boise, Idaho. . . The game was a chance for redemption after Northern Colorado lost the lone regular season contest against Southern Utah, 70-63, in Greeley. It wasnt easy, thats for sure, but the Bears will never complain about a win. . . It wasnt pretty and conference tournaments, when you start, can be a little ugly, but we just stayed the course, stayed with it, UNC head coach Jenny Huth said. Im just really proud of our team. . . As usual, sophomore forward Alisha Davis did some of everything. . . First, she scored 15 points and pulled down nine rebounds, accounting for every single UNC point in the first seven minutes of play. Then, she assisted on three of her teammates buckets. . . Then, to top it all off, the reigning Big Sky MVP a title for which she is thankful but doesnt put too much stock in added two steals and a career-high eight, yes, eight blocked shots. Davis came into the contest listed at No. 21 nationally for total blocks and No. 30 for blocks per game. . . Her ferocity around the rim was just too much for Southern Utah to handle. . . I think Alisha was a force to be reckoned with in there, said SUU coach Tracy Sanders. We looked at a couple different things to pull her away from the basket, but that was where we really struggled. Getting in there and getting those second chance opportunities or those layups that we usually kind of finish, I think she did a great job. . . Davis wasnt the only Bear to have a big game, though. Sophomore guard Jasmine Gayles led the team in scoring with 21 points just one point off her career high and hit four from range. She pulled down seven boards in the contest. . . Junior guard Micayla Isenbart helped in the paint as well, grabbing eight rebounds and recording two blocks of her own. . . When shots werent falling, Northern Colorado focused on defending. The team cant control fate, but it can control what opportunities its opponent has to make its own baskets. . . The Thunderbirds outscored the Bears in the first and third quarters, but UNC had the advantage in the second and fourth periods. The team held SUU to just nine points in the second on 25% shooting. . . There were scoring droughts, some lazy turnovers and far too many fouls than Northern Colorado likes, but its March. Theyre going to work on cleaning things up in the next game, but its all about surviving and advancing. . . It was a tough road to get here. We started out really tough. I could see that we had a lot of potential, we just had to build the right habits over time, Huth said. Getting here, we wanted to get in the position where we had a bye in the first round. We wanted to flip our record from last year from 8-12 and we did that. Were starting to see the fruits of our labor and our hard work that it does take. Its not an easy process. Theres nothing easy about it. . . Northern Colorado will have a rematch against No. 1 Idaho State who swept the series in December at 6 p. m. on Wednesday. . . Unlike last time, though, the Bears expect to have Gayles, Isenbart, juniors Brooklyn Evans and Jaiden Galloway, and senior Alexis Chapman. Four of the five missed the trip to Pocatello due to COVID-19 contact tracing protocols. Its essentially a new team, and theyre ready. . . Fans can watch the game for free on Pluto TV channel 1050.

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