Yellowjackets sting Nanooks

Senior forward Lakeshia Levi pulls up to attempt a shot Saturday as she is double-teamed by the Montana State Yellowjackets at the Patty Center.

By Tom Hewitt
Sun Star Reporter

As the Alaska women headed back to the locker room trailing the Montana State Yellowjackets by three points at halftime in Saturday night’s basketball game, senior forward Jessica Harrison felt like a victory was within reach.

“We’re still in this to win,” she said to herself.

Then came the deluge.

The Yellowjackets loosed a barrage of three-point shots in the opening minutes of the second half, quickly putting the Nanooks down ten points, then fifteen. Before they knew it, the Alaska squad was walking out of the Patty Center gym on the wrong end of a 67-49 final score.

“I didn’t even realize we were down by that much, it just happened so quickly,” Harrison said after the match.

Though the Nanooks started strong, jumping out to an early lead over a Montana State squad recovering from a defeat at the hands of the UAA Seawolves the previous night. The teams were fairly evenly matched physically, but the Yellowjackets’ three-point shooting and point zone offense proved too much for the Nanooks to handle.  With the loss, the team fell to 0-3 in conference play and 1-13 overall.

Coach Dave Thompson took responsibility for the team’s shortcomings after the game. “I could have prepared us a little better for a zone offense,” he said. “Our zone offense stalled and their zone disrupted us. We were working on other things. We thought we’d be better prepared.”

Thompson said that although they knew Montana State had players who were offensive threats, the flurry of threes that marked the turning point of the game came as Thompsons praise elicited a a surprise. “When you’re behind and someone’s taking [shots from] that deep, you almost think it’s to your advantage,” he said. “But boy, they stuck ‘em.”

Both Thompson and Harrison felt that the final score in Saturday’s contest didn’t reflect the effort displayed by the Nanook squad. “I think we had great effort today the entire game,” Thompson said. He also praised Harrison’s willingness to play through a nagging knee injury that kept her sidelined for much of last season. “Her attitude has been great. It’s a real pillar for us, that’s for sure.”

Thompsons praise elicited an admission from the injured player, and a reason for toughing it out. “It is a little rough some days… I can’t step out of practice, because who else is there behind me to back me up?”

Despite the fact that the Nanooks are still looking for their first conference win, Thompson is optimistic about the team’s prospects going forward. “I think it’s all correctable. I think when we look at the film, we did a lot of stuff nice tonight. I think we played with a lot of honor and heart, and we really got after it.”

Still, honor and heart alone don’t win games, and Thompson said he knows it. The team plans to hit the practice court with a mission this week, he said, with an eye toward Thursday’s home game against Western Oregon.

“We know what we need to work on.”

The Lady Nanooks next take the court this Thursday, Jan. 21, at 5:15 p.m. versus Western Oregon University at the Patty Center.

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