Wildcats rain threes, upend Lady Griz in Vegas


Villanova jumped out to a 13-2 lead in the game’s opening four minutes and went 15 for 29 (.517) from 3-point range to defeat Montana 74-49 Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the Lady Rebel Round-Up at Las Vegas.

The loss snapped Montana’s (3-2) three-game winning streak and upped Villanova’s record to 4-1.

One day after going 6 for 22 (.273) from 3-point range in their 53-42 victory over Bowling Green in Saturday’s opening round, the Wildcats made six against the Lady Griz before Sunday’s game was 10 minutes old.

Villanova went 9 for 15 (.600) from three in the first half to account for all but five of its first-half field goals.

“That’s what you fear when you play a team that shoots threes like they do,” UM coach Robin Selvig said. “They got it going early today, and we never really could put a finger in the dike.

“They run great offense and are hard to guard. Man, zone, in the first half it didn’t matter what we tried.

Lauren Burford went 5 for 6 from 3-point range in the first half and nearly matched Montana’s scoring output. She had 15 of Villanova’s first-half points as the Wildcats took a 40-19 lead to the locker room.

The Lady Griz shot just 27.6 percent in the first half against what is annually one of the nation’s better defensive teams. Senior Kenzie De Boer and sophomore Kellie Cole both had four points at the break.

“I told the team in the locker room, ‘Let’s forget that one and start over,’ ” Selvig said. “We played them to a four-point game in the second half, but it was too big of a hole to overcome.”

Montana shot 44.4 percent in the second half, but Villanova only cooled off slightly from behind the arc. The Wildcats, who had assists on 25 of their 27 field goals, went 6 for 14 (.429) from three in the second half.

Villanova went up a game-high 28 points, 52-24, early in the second half on a three by Caroline Coyer.

A three by junior Torry Hill on Montana’s next possession sparked a 10-0 run that cut the lead to 52-34, but Burford and Jesse Carey answered with threes for the Wildcats, and the lead stayed at least 20 the rest of the way.

“Not only do they run good offense, but they are a very good defensive team, and it’s a struggle for anyone to score against them,” said Selvig, alluding to four of Villanova’s five opponents this season failing to break 50 points.

“We’re not exactly explosive, so it was tough to ever really make much of a run at them.”

Burford, with 19, and Coyer and Rachel Roberts, with 13, led Villanova in scoring by going a collective 12 for 19 from three. Laura Sweeney, who finished with 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks and was named tournament MVP, was the Wildcats’ fourth double-digit scorer.

Hill led Montana with nine points. She also added four assists and four steals. De Boer, who was Montana’s representative on the all-tournament team, finished with eight points, the first game this season she has failed to reach double figures.

Senior Alyssa Smith led Montana, which ended up shooting 35.7 percent, with eight rebounds and matched Hill with four assists.

Villanova, which made 15 shots from behind the arc and 12 inside, shot 50.9 percent for the game and finished with a 38-29 rebounding advantage. It was the first time Montana has been out-rebounded since its season-opening loss at Temple.

Montana will host the three-team Lady Griz Classic over three days this week. Montana will host Idaho (0-4) Thursday. The Vandals, who host Eastern Washington Tuesday, will face Tennessee State (2-3) Friday, and the Lady Griz and Tigers will play Saturday.

All three games tip off at 7 p.m. at Dahlberg Arena.  Be sure to check out the this week’s Grizzly Planner for game schedules and records for both men’s and women’s basketball as well as indoor track.  UM vs. Villanova BOX SCORE.

Montana Sports Information  —  GoGriz.com