Lady Griz Play Idaho in Early Season Non-conference Matinee Sunday in Moscow

By UNIVERSITY OF MONTANA SPORTS INFORMATION

The Montana women’s basketball team will continue its early-season non-conference schedule with a matinee at Idaho Sunday at Moscow, Idaho. The Lady Griz and Vandals will tip off at 3 p.m. (MT) at UI’s Memorial Gym.

Opening tip: Montana enters the game with a record of 1-1, 0-1 on the road. Idaho is 0-3 on the season, 0-1 at home.

Coverage: The game will be aired in the Missoula area on 101.5 FM and 1290 AM, with Tom Stage and Dick Slater providing the coverage. Live stats will be available at GoVandals.com.

Season at a glance (Idaho): The Vandals have played two tight games — a 70-65 loss at Colorado and a 62-56 home loss Friday night to Portland — and one blowout — an 86-53 defeat at Wyoming to open the season.

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The reason Idaho is 0-3 instead of 2-1 (and Montana can definitely relate) is shooting. The Vandals are connecting at just 30.4 percent for the season.

Against Wyoming the Vandals shot 28.8 percent for the game and were outscored by 23 in the second half. Two days later Idaho had four players in double figures and lost a tight game (within one with two and a half to play) to the Buffaloes.

On Friday night Idaho led 41-23 early in the second half and ended up losing 62-56. The Pilots went on a 26-6 run, and the Vandals did not hold a lead over the final six minutes.

“It’s a difficult way to open,” Montana coach Robin Selvig said about Idaho’s road trip to Wyoming and Colorado. “We’ve had that happen at Wyoming before, but it tells you something that they bounced back and took Colorado to the wire. You don’t do that if you’re not pretty good.”

Torry Hill pushes the ball down the court against MSU-Northern’s press. Dahlberg Arena Missoula, Mont., November 13th, 2012. Photo by AustinSmith.

Junior Alyssa Charlston, a first-team All-WAC selection as a sophomore, leads Idaho through three games at 11.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game.

Last season: Idaho went 12-20 and finished fourth in the WAC at 6-8. The Vandals advanced to the semifinals of the WAC tournament before ending their season at the hands of Fresno State.

Season at a glance (Montana): Here are four numbers to consider: 49.2, 46.4, 26.3 and 46.8. Those are Montana’s shooting percentages against Carroll and Minot State in exhibition games, against Temple to open the season and against MSU Northern last Tuesday. It’s easy to guess which one resulted in an ugly 55-41 defeat.

So which Montana team shows up Sunday? A team that shoots in the mid to upper 40s and makes the game look easy, or one that struggles in the low 30s and has another familiar grinder?

“Really neither would surprise me,” Selvig said. “We shot well in our exhibition games and on Tuesday, but we had those teams overmatched, so I can’t really judge anything yet.

“I’m just hoping we can become more consistent.”

Selvig has few worries with the rest of his team’s game. Montana has its typical solid defensive team, allowing its first two opponents to shoot 37.4 percent, and the Lady Griz have averaged just 12 turnovers per game.

“We’re doing a lot of things well,” Selvig said. “We’re defending, and we’re taking care of the ball.”

X’s and O’s: What will Montana face Sunday? Fifth-year Idaho coach Jon Newlee’s preferred approach of good spacing and dribble-drive motion, with plenty of threes. It’s a system Selvig knows well, because he’s been scouting it for years. Newlee coached at Idaho State before moving upstate to Moscow.

“We’re certainly familiar with how Idaho plays,” Selvig said. “Jon has a system, so you know what you’re going to get. But it’s still hard to defend.

University of Montana Women’s Basketball Head Coach, Robin Selvig. Photo by AustinSmith.

“They spread you out, put it down and shoot a lot of threes. On top of that, they want to run, so it’s wide open, and they do a good job of it. Jon’s teams are well-coached.”

Montana gets one back, sits another: Sophomore forward Maggie Rickman (ankle) missed the MSU Northern game Tuesday. She will be back in her role off the bench Sunday. … Montana will be without freshman guard Shanae Gilham (knee) Sunday and for the next few weekends of games. Gilham was coming off a 12-point, 3-assist game Tuesday against the Skylights.

The last meeting: Montana defeated Idaho last November in Missoula 64-57 in a game that had a low rating on the attractiveness meter. The Vandals, who led 33-28 at the half, turned the ball over 18 times, and the Lady Griz won despite shooting just 31.9 percent.

The teams combined to go just 7 for 50 (.140) from 3-point range.

Katie Baker was Montana’s offensive bright spot. She finished with 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting. Kenzie De Boer had 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Jessica Graham, a senior on this year’s Idaho team, was the Vandals’ most effective player in last year’s meeting. She finished with eight points, four assists and three rebounds.

The teams met in Moscow the year before. Montana shot 41.9 percent in the first half and went up 36-28 at the break, but the Vandals got hot in the second half and rallied for the 69-56 victory. Idaho went 15 for 25 (.600) in the second half and outscored Montana 41-20 over the final 20 minutes.

Series notes: Sunday’s game will end a longtime home-and-home series between the two schools. Though they’ll remain familiar. Montana and Idaho meet in less than two weeks in Missoula at the Lady Griz Classic, and they’ll return to being Big Sky Conference foes when the Vandals join the league in 2014-15.

Upcoming: Montana will travel over Thanksgiving to Las Vegas for the UNLV Lady Rebel Round-Up. The Lady Griz will face host UNLV (1-1) on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 2 p.m. (MT), then either Villanova (2-1) or Bowling Green (2-0) in Sunday afternoon’s consolation or championship game.

Montana Sports Information  —  GoGriz.com