Lady Griz Finish Weekend Sweep with 77-65 Victory (Photo Gallery)

By JOEL CARLSON | Photos by WILLIAM MUNOZ

Montana shot a season-best 54.2 percent and led from start to finish in a 77-65 victory over Idaho State Saturday afternoon at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula.

Kellie Rubel scored Montana’s first seven points and finished with a game-high 23 as the Lady Griz (10-5, 3-1 BSC) won for the eighth time in nine games.

After failing to crack 40 percent in its previous seven games, Montana shot 52.0 percent in the first half, 56.5 in the second to break 40 percent for just the fourth time this season.

“We’re just a heck of a shooting team. That’s pretty much what we live by here,” said UM coach Robin Selvig, tongue in cheek. “I’ve felt all along we were going to have a game when we shot it well. We certainly did today.”

That could have been the impetus for a more convincing win, but whether it was Idaho State or that very offensive performance, Montana did not have the same lockdown defense it had been employing for more than a month.

The Lady Griz hadn’t allowed a team to score 65 points since November or a team to shoot 40 percent since early December. Idaho State (7-8, 2-2 BSC) finished at 40 percent.

-untitled- 3372“We’ve been shooting not very well, so we’ve been winning by not letting the other team score,” said Selvig. “It was a nice game to be making shots, because our defense wasn’t as good as it’s been. We were having a hard time guarding them.”

Behind eight early points from Rubel and baskets by Maggie Rickman and Carly Selvig, Montana’s seniors gave the Lady Griz a 12-7 lead less than five minutes into the game.

Shanae Gilham, who was questionable because of a lingering illness, hit a 3-pointer that put Montana up 19-10, and it felt like a blowout was in the works.

But behind Apiphany Woods’ 15 first-half points and the Bengals’ ability to get to the basket and draw fouls, ISU would trim its deficit to 27-26 and trail just 41-35 at the break.

“The only thing I didn’t like today was that they got to the foul line 25 times,” said Selvig. “They put it down, and we didn’t quite get the help there, so we ended up putting them at the line too much.”

The game remained tight through the opening 10 minutes of the second half, and Idaho State pulled within six, 54-48, when Megan Hochstein scored with 10:31 to go.

That’s when Montana finally started to pull away.

Hannah Doran, who is 6 for 7 from 3-point range the last four games, hit her second triple in four minutes to make it 57-48, and Gilham converted an and-one opportunity off a sweet feed from Mekayla Isaak. That made it 60-48.

The lead twice reached 16 points, but that was as large as it would get because of some shaky free throw shooting. Montana missed nine free throws for the game, four in the final three minutes.

That allowed the Bengals to pull within 10 in the final minute before Rickman scored the game’s final basket to make it 77-65.

“We got away from them a little bit late and were able to keep it at a decent margin,” said Selvig. “We could have kept it at 16 or 17, but we missed free throws.”

BBQRubel reached 20 points for the second time this season and the 12th time in her career. She also added a game-high eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Rickman finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals, and Gilham scored 13 points in 18 minutes off the bench. She went 2 for 3 from the arc and was perfect at the free throw line.

“I didn’t know if Shanae was going to play at all today,” said Selvig. “She’s been sick, so I thought I’d give her a couple of minutes to see how she was doing, and she ends up playing 18 minutes and having a heck of a stat line.”

Woods, a transfer from State Fair Community College in Missouri, totaled 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals in her first game at Dahlberg Arena. Grace Kenyon added 18 points and six boards.

Montana will continue its three-game home stand next weekend when its host Montana State (7-8, 1-3 BSC) on Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Lady Griz’ only game of the week. The Bobcats picked up their first league win of the season Saturday afternoon with a 62-54 victory over Weber State.

In other Big Sky games Saturday, Eastern Washington won at home over Idaho 71-65, Sacramento State won at home over Northern Colorado 76-71, and Portland State pulled off a shocker at home, winning 73-70 over North Dakota. Northern Arizona plays at Southern Utah Saturday night.

2015-01-11_0919

CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE

ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...
ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...
ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...
ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...
ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...
ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...
ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...
ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...
ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...
ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...
ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...
ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...
ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...
ladygrizvsisu©williammunoz
ladygrizvsisu©w...