By JOEL CARLSON
The Montana women’s basketball team will play the first of its two preseason exhibition games Wednesday when it hosts Carroll at 7 p.m. at Dahlberg Arena.
The Lady Griz will face Great Falls on Monday at 7 p.m., then open the regular season on Sunday, Nov. 15, at 1 p.m. against Seattle.
Montana will play four home games in eight days to open the regular season. After Seattle, the Lady Griz will host MSU Northern on Tuesday, Nov. 17, Pacific on Thursday, Nov. 19, and Portland on Sunday, Nov. 22.
Coverage: Wednesday’s game will air locally on KGVO 1290 AM/101.5 FM, with Tom Stage and Dick Slater calling the action. Streaming video of the game and live stats will be available through gogriz.com.
Preview: After a month of practice and some scrimmages, including last week’s Maroon and Silver game, the Lady Griz will get their first look at outside competition Wednesday.
Montana will feature a starting lineup of senior Haley Vining at the point, senior McCalle Feller at the two, senior Hannah Doran at the three, junior Kayleigh Valley at the four and junior Alycia Sims at the five.
Feller and Valley, both preseason All-Big Sky Conference, led the way at the Maroon and Silver scrimmage, with Feller finishing with 15 points, three steals and three blocked shots, Valley with 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting and nine rebounds.
Sims had 12 points and nine rebounds, junior Rachel Staudacher 12 points and a team-high four assists, and redshirt freshman Sierra Anderson nine points, four rebounds and three assists.
“Playing somebody else will give us a much better evaluation,” said 38th-year coach Robin Selvig. “There are things like substitution rotations and roles that you need to play a game to do, so we’re looking forward to it.
“I want to start getting comfortable with who’s playing when and where, all those things, and see where we are execution-wise.”
Montana should be challenged by the Saints, who already have a pair of games to their credit, a 59-52 victory over the University of Alberta and a 73-35 blowout of Mount Royal.
Carroll, which has eight Montanans on its roster and 12 underclassmen, is shooting 46.6 percent through two games under fifth-year coach Rachelle Sayers, who spent the previous 14 seasons working under Carla Taylor at Weber State.
The Saints went 18-11 in 2014-15 and ended their season in the first round of the NAIA national tournament, their third trip to NAIA nationals in four years.
“They’ve got a really good team, with lots of kids back from a team that had a great season last year,” said Selvig. “They have size, good quickness at the guard, good players and a couple of games under their belt. They look impressive.
“I want to see if we can guard people, and they are going to be a hard team to guard. They’ve got good weapons and good size.”
Carroll ranks 24th in the preseason NAIA national poll. The Saints were picked fourth in the Frontier Conference poll behind MSU Northern, Great Falls and Lewis-Clark State.
Six-foot-two forward Cassidy Hashley, of Kalispell, was the Frontier Conference Freshman of the Year last winter. Senior point guard Katie Estey scored a team-high 12 points against Alberta, freshman forward Brooke Jones, of Manhattan, scored 13 against Mount Royal on 6-of-7 shooting.
Freshman center Hannah Dean, who led Gardiner to the Montana Class C state title at Dahlberg Arena in March, is averaging 8.0 points on 58.3 percent shooting and 5.5 rebounds through two games.
That will make it two youth-filled squads squaring off Wednesday. Six of Montana’s 13 players have not played in a regular-season college game, and only Feller, Sims and Valley have started games in their careers.
“One thing we don’t have is very much game experience, so this will be valuable,” said Selvig. “More than anything it’s a chance to start gaining some experience for the players on this team.”
Montana Sports Information