By JOEL CARLSON | Photos By WILLIAM MUNOZ
That’s more like it. Two days after stumbling out of the starting blocks with a 58-44 loss to Seattle in its season opener, the Montana women’s basketball team shot 50.7 percent and had five players in double figures in an 80-32 dismantling of MSU Northern Tuesday night at Dahlberg Arena.
Rachel Staudacher scored a career-high 14 points off the bench on 6-of-9 shooting, and Mekayla Isaak, who made her first five shots, had the best all-around game of her career, totaling 12 points, six rebounds and five assists, all career highs.
Most important, the Lady Griz (1-1), who shot 24.6 percent and missed 30 of their final 36 shots against the Redhawks, finally made some baskets. To put the two games in perspective, Montana doubled the amount of shots it made, from 17 to 34, on two fewer attempts.
“We worked on that yesterday in practice,” said coach Robin Selvig, tongue in cheek. “We’re not that experienced, and I think it showed Sunday. We came into this game wanting to prove we’re a better team than we showed two days ago.”
The Lady Griz missed five of their first six shots against the Skylights, who counted the contest as an exhibition, giving the early minutes of the game a here-we-go-again vibe. But 10 first-quarter points by Alycia Sims put Montana up 20-10 at the end of the quarter, and the Lady Griz rolled from there.
“We missed a lot of open shots on Sunday, and we hit those today,” said Selvig. “It just changes everything when that happens. I’m just glad we had a game right away, because we had to get that Seattle one off our minds.
“Of course this wasn’t as good a team as Seattle, but they’re not a bad team. Their first unit is capable of playing with us, and they did for a while.”
Montana led 37-22 at the half against the Frontier Conference favorites, then used its deeper bench to pull away in the second half. The Lady Griz outscored the Skylights 28-8 in the third quarter, 15-2 in the fourth.
That allowed Selvig to get at least 10 minutes for all 10 of his players, and everyone contributed. Montana, which gave up just three offensive rebounds, had 22 assists and seven turnovers. All 10 players had at least one assist, and everyone but Maddie Keast made the scoring column.
Sims finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, Kayleigh Valley had 10 points and nine rebounds, and Sierra Anderson came off the bench to add 11 points.
“Everybody did some good stuff, no question,” said Selvig. “It’s all part of the process of learning and getting better, so that hopefully by the time we get to league I won’t be saying that this isn’t a very experienced team.”
Jacy Thompson led MSU Northern with 10 points.
Montana will face its toughest test of the young season Thursday when the Lady Griz host Pacific. The Tigers, who defeated Montana 62-50 last November in Stockton, Calif., are 2-0 with road victories over Cal State Bakersfield and UC Davis.
Pacific has limited its first two opponents to 37.2 percent shooting.
“This was a good one for us tonight so that we know we can score, because Pacific is really good. I mean really good,” said Selvig, hinting that it’s the type of game Lady Griz fans don’t want to miss and could play a role in if they show up in force.
Montana and Pacific tip off at 7 p.m. at Dahlberg Arena.
Montana Sports Information