Montana Wins Lady Griz Classic for 30th Time

By JOEL CARLSON

Senior point guard Torry Hill scored a game-high 16 points and Montana shot 48.3 percent to win the 2013 Holiday Inn Lady Griz Classic Saturday night at Dahlberg Arena with a 71-48 victory over UC Irvine.

Montana won its own tournament for the 30th time in 33 editions and improved to 63-3 in Classic games. Its tournament winning streak is now at 28 games.

Hill was the brightest star Saturday with six assists, five steals and four rebounds to go along with her 16 points, but Montana had such a strong team effort Friday and Saturday nights that Hill did not even make the all-tournament team.

Instead those honors went to senior Jordan Sullivan, who was named tournament MVP, and junior Kellie Cole. Sullivan averaged 13.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in UM’s two wins while shooting 50.0 percent and going 5 for 11 from 3-point range. She scored a career-high 16 points on Friday.

Cole hit the game-winning 3-pointer in Friday’s 59-56 victory over Idaho and followed that up with a sensational all-around game against the Anteaters. She finished with nine points, a career-high seven assists and five rebounds while committing zero turnovers in 32 minutes.

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33rd Annual Lady Griz Holiday Classic Champions. Photo by Austin Smith.

Rounding out the all-tournament team were Camille Buckley of UC Irvine, Alyssa Charlston of Idaho and Maryah Sydnor of Appalachian State.

Irvine scored 57 first-half points Friday on its way to an 85-77 win over Appalachian State. Montana picked up Saturday where the Anteaters left off. If not in scoring quantity, then at least in efficiency.

The Lady Griz hit nine of their first 13 shots and built early leads of 8-0 and 22-6 and never let the Anteaters back into the game.

Montana led by double figures the final 14:44 of the first half and the entirety of the second half.

“We made it hard for them to score all night, but what makes you a really good team, which we on occasion are, is we shot the heck out of it to start the game, and that took the wind out of their sails a little bit,” UM coach Robin Selvig said.

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Holiday Classic Tournament Team: Jordan Sullivan (MVP), Camille Buckley of UC Irvine, Kellie Cole of Montana, Alyssa Charlston of Idaho and Maryah Sydnor of Appalachian State. Photo by Austin Smith.

Montana has been solid with the ball all season and entered the game with a sparkling 1.30 assist-to-turnover ratio through its first six outings.

But the Lady Griz haven’t been better than they were Saturday night. They assisted on 21 of their 29 field goals and turned the ball over just 12 times, one off their season low.

“We passed the ball well tonight. That and shooting it well allowed us to get away from them a little bit. It was just a really good effort out of our kids,” Selvig said.

“I’m really happy with how we played, because I think that’s a good basketball team. I was hoping we could beat them, but I thought it might be a one-point game.”

Montana’s two-guard backcourt of Hill and Cole is emerging as a special combination. On Saturday night they combined for 25 points and 13 assists. Both had four first-half assists, and that ball distribution sparked Montana to a 37-21 halftime lead, with seven players scoring between four and eight points.

“I thought Torry really made some great passes and had some nice feeds early and was the impetus for the run that we had. She was getting the right people the ball at the right time and also doing a nice job defensively,” Selvig said. “And Kellie is playing as solid as can be.

Without the services of sophomore McCalle Feller this weekend, Montana scored just five bench points Friday night. That total increased to 23 on Saturday, mostly because of the hot hand of sophomore Hannah Doran, who went 3 for 4 from 3-point range and scored a career-high 11 points.

Freshman Alycia Sims came off the bench to score six points, but maybe more important was the interior defense she provided after junior Carly Selvig was saddled with three first-half fouls. Those fouls limited Selvig to 10 first-half minutes. Enter Sims.

“I didn’t like seeing Carly get into foul trouble early, but they kept going inside (to Buckley), and when they do that, Carly is going to get into foul trouble,” Selvig explained.

“Fortunately Alycia is a darn good defender for a young kid, so we have some depth at that position. We needed size down there to guard (Buckley) or she was going to kill us.”

Buckley led UC Irvine with a quite double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, both team highs.

One night after lighting up Idaho for 85 points on 48.4 percent shooting, UCI was limited to 48 points on 30.5 percent shooting by the Lady Griz. And Montana finished with a 42-32 rebounding advantage, its second-best differential of the season.

“It was a darn good effort by a lot of ladies and a great way to head into finals week,” Selvig said.

Montana won’t play again until next Saturday, when the Lady Griz host Temple (4-2) at 7 p.m. at Dahlberg Arena. The Owls are also off this coming week for finals before traveling to Missoula.

The Lady Griz will play at Wyoming on Tuesday, Dec. 17, in their final game before Christmas and their last game before opening Big Sky Conference play Jan. 2 at Northern Arizona.

GAME STATS (PDF)

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