Valley Scores 29 and the Lady Griz Win Over Portland 90-67


Trailing by three at the half, Montana outscored Portland 52-26 in the second half to post a 90-67 victory over the Pilots Sunday afternoon at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula.

Kayleigh Valley scored a career-high 29 points, and Haley Vining added a career-high 15, going 4 for 6 from 3-point range, as the Lady Griz (3-1) wrapped up their season-opening, four-game home stand with three straight wins after falling to Seattle last Sunday.

“This was a good win in a lot of ways,” said coach Robin Selvig, whose team will travel to Bethlehem, Pa., later this week for Lehigh’s Christmas City Classic.

“First of all, they’ve got pretty good players. Second of all, they scored 28 points in the second quarter and had us on our heels, and we did a better job defensively and on the boards in the second half. As a result, we got a wide margin of victory, which I didn’t think would happen at halftime.”

It was punch-counterpunch in the first two quarters. Montana went up 22-13 through one, then got outscored 28-16 in the second, with Portland’s Corissa Turley scoring 13 of her team-high 18 points in the quarter. That helped the Pilots (1-3) build a 41-38 halftime lead.

“They got it cooking on us,” said Selvig, who could only watch as Portland hit eight of its 12 shots in the quarter and went 3 for 4 from the arc. “We were playing hard, but we weren’t getting things done, and we weren’t stopping them.”

On the other end, the Lady Griz went 4 for 19 (.211) in the second quarter.

“And we quit scoring. All night long we moved the ball and got good shots. Maybe I’m imagining this, but I think we missed five or six high-percentage shots right down by the basket,” Selvig said.

Behind Valley and Vining, who combined for 17 points in the third quarter, Montana finally took charge. The Lady Griz, who had just eight turnovers in the game, outscored the Pilots 29-12 in the period, 23-14 in the fourth to win going away. Montana shot 64.3 percent in the second half.

Valley, who left the game briefly in the first half after crashing out of bounds and grabbing her knee, was unstoppable inside, whether she was defended by a single player or doubled up. She went 8 for 14 and got to the line 15 times, where she hit 13.

She eclipsed her previous career high of 26, which she set last February at Weber State. Her 29 points came one game after scoring just two in Montana’s 64-54 victory over Pacific, a low output that was mostly the result of foul trouble.

“She was just a force around the basket. We kept going to the well, and she kept delivering,” said Selvig. “They didn’t have an answer for her. It was nice to see her have a big one.”

Vining, whose previous career high was six, scored 12 of her 15 points in the second half. She also had a career-high six assists and no turnovers. Montana’s five starters had 18 assists with just two turnovers.

Vining was 2 for 18 in Montana’s first three games of the season.

“Haley played great. She did not shoot it as well as I think she’s capable of in our earlier games, but she is a really good spot-up shooter,” said Selvig. “That should give her some confidence.”

McCalle Feller added 13 points before leaving in the second half with her own knee injury after crashing into the basket support. She was on a courtside bike shortly after leaving the game. Early reports indicate that it was just a bruised knee.

Alycia Sims grabbed 11 rebounds, her third time in four games with double-figure boards, Mekayla Isaak had seven rebounds, five assists and a pair of blocks, and Hannah Doran came off the bench to add six points, five steals, three assists and three rebounds.

Montana will open the Christmas City Classic on Saturday against Lehigh at 2 p.m. (MT). The Mountain Hawks, who are 3-0, play at Delaware State on Monday and host Saint Peter’s on Wednesday.

The Lady Griz will face either Drexel (2-1) or Villanova (1-1) next Sunday at 10 a.m. (MT).