A Huge Week for Griz Hoops – Part II

By BILL SCHWANKE

LADY GRIZ 69, NORTH DAKOTA 59

Like Utah Valley UND came to Missoula with only one win. The Sioux got their second Tuesday evening against Texas A&M-CC and certainly had every chance to get their third against the Lady Griz.

Until Katie Baker took over, that is.

This time the Lady Griz led all the way in the first half, twice by 11 points and by six at the intermission. But in the second half the Sioux made a run and took a 42-37 lead with just under 14 minutes remaining.

A jumper by Stephanie Stender and a three-point play by Sarah Ena forced a 42-42 tie. The two teams would be tied once more down the stretch before Baker took charge, scoring on a variety of shots from jumpers to drives to the basket to tally 12 of Montana’s final 24 points.

Baker finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds, yielding Lady Griz and game scoring honors to Sarah Ena who, despite shooting her worst percentage over the past several games, rang up 15 points and pulled down 7 boards.

Also in double figures for the Lady Griz, who head into league play next week with two straight wins and a 5-8 record, were Stender with 13 (and 6 rebounds) and Alyssa Smith with 10 points.

While the Lady Griz turned the ball over 15 times against UND’s very physical defense, the Sioux had six more giveaways. Montana’s shooting once again dipped under 40 percent, but just barely, and UM’s defense forced the Sioux into shooting less than 36 percent.

The Lady Griz cashed in at the free throw line to the tune of 71 percent, getting 23 more charity tries than North Dakota. Both squads shot better than 40 percent from 3-point land.

While the jury is still out on the move of Kenzie DeBoer to point guard she has taken good care of the ball for the most part and the play of Torrey Hill at the off guard and the point has improved. DeBoer isn’t scoring as well as she might playing big guard or small forward. But maybe that will work itself out with time, or maybe Hill or fellow true freshman Lexie Nelson will pick things up well enough to play point guard more as time goes by this season.

Problem is, conference play generally is more intense and has more on the line. There is less opportunity to put people in certain positions and situations just to give them experience. There’s simply too much on the line.

ON THE SIDE: I’m starting to believe that the time has come to put the 10-second rule in the women’s game and make them get the ball across half court in that time like the men do. Give the women a 35-second shot clock, too. I think the women’s game has progressed enough to go down that path. What do you think?

GRIZ 75, WEBER STATE 56

Montana found itself trailing Weber State 17-15 8 1/2 minutes into this Friday afternoon rematch between the two teams that played for the league tourney title last season.

A season-high crowd of 4,606 watched the Grizzlies go on a 24-11 run to lead 39-28 at halftime with Derek Selvig again the catalyst with a solid first half.. The Wildcats got within six about three minutes into the second half, but then the Grizzlies took off and left them in their dust.

Much more so than in the NAU game the Griz were solid at both ends of the floor and on the boards. UM held Weber under 37 percent from the floor while shooting nearly 46 percent themselves. Montana had just six turnovers on the afternoon while forcing the Wildcats into 11. And the Grizzlies had 16 assists compared to just eight for the Wildcats.

Montana dominated the boards 38-31. All in all it was one of Montana’s most solid performances of the year and gave the Griz a 2-0 start on the league season heading into next week’s road trip to Northern Colorado and Sacramento State.

Selvig positioned himself for a run at Big Sky player of the week, scoring 23 points and hauling down seven rebounds to go with his 16 points and six boards against NAU. Qvale got 32 minutes of playing time and scored 13 along with seven boards and a pair of blocked shots. Will Cherry, held scoreless in the first half, wound up with 11 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals. But he was a terror for the Wildcats all afternoon.

Montana got a super effort from Shawn Stockton off the bench. The Spokane product played 26 minutes and battled for five rebounds from his guard position while scoring six points.

It’s always fun to beat the Wildcats, and it’s great to get off to a 2-0 start, but the Big Sky Conference season is a long, tough grind. Hopefully the Grizzlies will bring their ‘A’ game out every night.

They’ll have to next week on the road, because both Northern Colorado and Sacramento State have the talent to tangle with Montana.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYBODY!!  Back to UM Hoops home page.

***********

“Grizzly Bill” Schwanke is a UM journalism grad and Missoula native.  He spent 21 years doing play-by-play for Griz football and men’s basketball winning sportscaster of the year six times and working in Grizzly athletics for 15 years total. He’s enjoying retirement, especially the chance to spend time with his three grandsons. His wife Lynn and he have been married for 42years.