Lady Griz edge out UNLV 69-65 in overtime


Senior Kenzie De Boer scored 18 points and sophomore Kellie Cole added 14 off the bench to lead the Montana women’s basketball team to a 69-65 overtime victory over UNLV Saturday afternoon at Las Vegas in the opening round of the Lady Rebel Round-Up.

The win was the third straight for the Lady Griz (3-1) since dropping their season opener at Temple.

Montana will face Villanova (3-1) Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (MT) in the tournament championship game. The Wildcats defeated Bowling Green (2-2) in Saturday’s late game 53-42.

Sunday’s title game will be the first-ever (and long overdue) meeting between the two longest-tenured active coaches in NCAA Division I women’s basketball. Montana coach Robin Selvig and Villanova coach Harry Perretta are both in their 35th seasons at the schools that hired them in the summer of 1978.

Montana deserved better than having to play an extra five minutes against UNLV (2-3). The Lady Griz built a 12-point first-half lead, led 30-26 at the break and still had a 56-46 advantage with four minutes remaining before nearly giving away what felt for most of the second half like a sure thing.

UNLV’s Amanda Anderson hit back-to-back threes to start the Lady Rebels’ late rally. Her second three made it 58-52, but De Boer answered with a jumper at the 2:50 mark to make it 60-52.

Montana would not score again in regulation.

Kelli Thompson, who scored 18 points for UNLV before fouling out late in the overtime period, got into the lane with just under two minutes remaining and converted an and-one to make it 60-55.

After Montana missed three times on its next possession, spoiling the effort of grabbing two offensive rebounds, Thompson did it again. Her free throw with 1:15 to play brought the Lady Rebels within two, 60-58.

Cole hit a runner in the lane on Montana’s next possession, a shot that may have finally ended UNLV’s rally, but she was called for an offensive foul, the Lady Griz’ third turnover in three minutes, and that set up the series of events that allowed UNLV to force overtime.

Thompson missed a three badly with 19 seconds to play. Junior Jordan Sullivan had the defensive rebound in her hands, but it was knocked free, and Alana Cesarz grabbed the loose ball and laid it in with 15 seconds to go to make it 60-60.

It was the first time in the game Montana had not led since the 13:46 mark of the first half.

De Boer’s potential game-winning jumper with three seconds left was off the mark.

“We did everything we could to give that game away, which is what it amounted to,” a relieved Robin Selvig said after watching his team outscore UNLV 9-5 in the overtime.

“We were in command pretty much the whole time, so I don’t think it ever should have gotten that close. But they kept scrambling, and our 10-point lead just disappeared.”

Senior Katie Baker, who was just 4 for 12 entering the extra period, hit both of her overtime shots, and Montana never trailed in the final five minutes.

De Boer opened the overtime scoring, and a Baker jumper in the paint with 3:17 left made it 64-60.

A pair of Thompson free throws with 2:00 left tied it at 64, and Cole answered by calmly draining a pair of free throws on Montana’s next possession to give the Lady Griz the lead for good.

The dagger came with 30 seconds left when Baker’s turnaround jumper hit three points of the rim before dropping through to make it 69-65.

“It was frustrating (to not win in regulation), but it says something when you’re on the road and you tough it up and come back and win in overtime,” Selvig said.

“I guess you can’t count on them not making some late runs, but it would have been a shame to lose that game, because I think anybody watching was thinking, Montana’s in control, they’ve got this.”

For the second straight game, Cole came in and provided enough offense to help cover for a starter in foul trouble.

Senior Alyssa Smith picked up her third foul of the game with 6:45 still to play in the first half. With Montana’s coaches likely on the bench debating what they should do with Smith, she picked up her fourth foul 28 seconds later. She would only play 12 more minutes and finish with 19 for the game.

Cole ended up playing 30 minutes, seven more than she did while filling in for a foul-plagued De Boer in Montana’s 71-50 win last Sunday at Idaho.

Cole went 4 for 8 from the field and 6 for 8 from the line to come within two of her career high. She also had two assists and just a single turnover. “Kellie gave us good minutes again,” Selvig said.

Had he been presented with his team’s final 36.4 percent shooting percentage before the game, Selvig likely would have guessed his team was going to be on the wrong end of the final score. But Montana out-rebounded a team that had a size advantage, forced 21 turnovers and limited UNLV to 37.7 percent shooting.

“We did not dazzle in a lot of areas, but they’re a good team, and we beat them at their place,” Selvig said.

“They are a big, strong rebounding team, and we got them by one. For the most part we took care of the ball, and we won despite not shooting great from the field.”

De Boer reached double figures for the fourth time in four games, and she also added a team-high nine rebounds. Baker matched Cole with 14 points and was a huge defensive presence with six blocked shots to go along with eight rebounds. Her six blocks give Baker 16 through the team’s first four games.

Sullivan was the team’s fourth double-digit scorer. She finished with 11 points, six coming from a pair of 3-pointers, and sophomore Maggie Rickman hit both of her shot attempts and both of her free throws to score six points in 14 minutes off the bench.

Montana won despite getting just three points from junior Torry Hill, who entered the game averaging 11.3 points. Hill hit a three two minutes into the game to make it 3-1, but that would be her only basket of the game in 11 attempts.

“We got a lot of good shots all game,” Selvig said. “Torry went 1 for 9 from three, but those were all good threes.”

Her cold hand did not affect the rest of Hill’s game. She had a team-high five assists, matched a career high with five rebounds and had three steals while playing a team-high 35 minutes.

UNLV’s Danielle Miller led both teams with 19 points. Like Thompson, Miller also fouled out in the overtime period. Cesarz finished with 13 points and nine rebounds while playing a game-high 44 minutes.

Montana Sports Information  —