HELENA — Frontier Conference women’s basketball rang in the new year with a full slate of games. The matchups featured an upset, a big road win and some other teams just staying the course.
Let’s see how everyone did.
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1. Carroll College (12-3, 4-0 Frontier)
Carroll College comes in as the lone undefeated Frontier Conference team after leaving Billings with a 58-50 win over Rocky Mountain. The Saints struggled from the field, shooting just 39 percent, but had a great game from sophomore point guard Jaidyn Lyman. The Spokane, Washington, native led her team with 14 points, including a pair of 3-pointers to get the win. Christine Denny was also just shy of a double-double. Carroll has won eight out of their last nine games and look to be in midseason form. The Saints next game against Lewis-Clark State could be a preview of the Frontier Conference title game coming up in a few months.
2. Lewis-Clark State (13-2, 3-1 Frontier)
Lewis-Clark State is coming off two consecutive road wins against Providence and Montana State-Northern. The wins might have been closer than the Warriors wanted, but two close wins can tell a lot about a team. The Warriors shot a dismal 35 percent against the Argos, but senior forward Jossilyn Blackman led her team with 13 points and 12 rebounds to claim the win. Two nights later, she rallied her team back in the fourth quarter to defeat the Lights 51-49. Lewis-Clark State is a dangerous team that has shown it has some senior leadership, but shooting less than 40 percent in consecutive games could catch up to them.
3. Montana Western (12-1, 3-1)
There could be debate that Montana Western should only drop one spot with only one loss this week, but the Bulldogs’ loss to Providence showed that they have some weaknesses. Even though Western’s Brianna King continued to score, finishing with 20 points, its weakness will be its size down low. Cierra Lamey only had 10 points and Brianna Cooper had 5 points on 2-of-8 shooting. The Bulldogs’ front court also could not stop Parker Esary, who scored 17 points and reeled in 13 rebounds. Western will stay near the top of the power rankings, but if they want to get back on top, they need some help from someone besides King.
4. Providence (12-4 1-3 Frontier)
Providence is coming off a big 61-50 win against Montana Western where sophomore forward Parker Esary was not the only player to have a big game. Sophomore point guard Emilee Maldonado also scored 23 points while nearly playing all 40 minutes. The duo of Esary and Maldonado could be the best one-two punch in the conference, but the Argos will need to learn how to win consistently. Road losses to Carroll and Rocky and then coming back to to defeat Western might confuse the committee for a bid into the national tournament.
5. Rocky Mountain (12-4, 3-1 Frontier)
Rocky Mountain had a chance to move up in the power rankings if they came away with a home win against Carroll. That did not happen so the Battlin’ Bears will have to keep battling if they want to move up next week. The good news is that they have a perfect opportunity when they face Montana Western and Lewis-Clark State on the road. The flip side to that is the Bulldogs will be steaming after a loss to Providence and Lewis-Clark State is the second hottest team in the conference right now. Look for Alecia Chamberlin to have a big week. She only scored 5 points in a 72-55 win over Montana Tech, but she has been pretty consistent all season.
6. Montana Tech (10-5, 0-4 Frontier)
Montana Tech moves up a spot because it only lost one game this week. The Orediggers continue to struggle, as they shot 34 percent from the field and 35 percent from the 3-point line against Rocky Mountain. Tech’s front court duo of Celestina Faletoi and Kaylee Zard combined for just 10 points on 3-10 shooting. The only bright spot came when Mollie Peoples scored 13 points off the bench in just 15 minutes. Someone give her a spot in the starting lineup. It might give the Orediggers some wins and an increase in the power rankings.
7. Montana State-Northern (8-8, 0-4 Frontier)
Montana State-Northern dropped both of its games this week, including a big 64-30 loss in front of its home fans. In that game, the Skylights shot a season-worst 25 percent from the field, 22 percent from the 3-point line and committed 20 turnovers. Peyton Kehr is leading Northern in scoring this season but hasn’t had a 20-point game since her 25-point performance against Yellowstone Christian. Kehr has the talent to score 20-plus points against NAIA level teams like Rocky Mountain, but she needs to show it.