De Boer, Baker Lead Lady Griz over Vikings

By JOEL CARLSON for GoGriz.com

As Thursday’s 58-56 loss to Eastern Washington showed, defense alone is not going to be enough. Two days later Montana proved it can play a little bit on the other end as well.

Senior Kenzie De Boer scored 25 points and senior Katie Baker had her third double-double in four games with 17 points and 16 rebounds as Montana won at Portland State Saturday afternoon 70-55 to improve to 3-1 in the Big Sky Conference, 9-4 overall.

Montana shot just 37.3 percent, but the Lady Griz hounded their third straight opponent into sub-32-percent shooting, and with Baker’s help had their first dominant performance on the boards in over a month.

“This is a good win for us,” UM coach Robin Selvig said. “You lose a heartbreaker like we did Thursday, and you wonder what your kids are going to do.

“We came out with pretty good energy and put one together against a team that has a lot of good wins this season. It’s a darn good win on the road for us.”

Montana opened 1 for 9 against a Portland State man-to-man defense that extended out to and beyond the 3-point line, shooting that was an ugly extension of Thursday night’s 32.1-percent performance, but De Boer had the remedy.

She scored eight quick points, all on strong drives to the rim, and her basket at the 13:15 mark put Montana up 11-9, a lead the Lady Griz would never relinquish.

“There was a stretch there where we were 1 for 9, and our defense really saved us,” Selvig said about the opening five minutes. “We hung in there.

“They were really up into us and pressuring us. In that situation you’ve got to be able to go to the basket and burn them, and we did. It was Kenzie that really got us going.”

De Boer, with 14 points, Baker, with eight points and eight boards, and junior Torry Hill, who added six points on a pair of 3-pointers, scored 28 of Montana’s first-half points as the Lady Griz went up 31-25 at the break.

There would be no second-half run for Portland State, because the Vikings (7-6, 1-3 BSC) — outside of Courtney VanBrocklin, who scored a game-high 26 points — could never get anything easy against Montana’s stout interior defense.

The Lady Griz, already among the nation’s leaders in blocked shots, had seven rejections in the second half and a season-high 12 for the game. Four came from sophomore Carly Selvig, with all four coming against PSU’s 6-foot-1, back-to-the-basket forward Angela Misa, who finished 1 for 10.

“Carly is such a good defender,” her uncle/coach said. “She takes away the inside game of a lot of teams.

“Misa is a big, strong girl, and the first couple of times Carly blocked her, (Misa) got it in her head that she was going to score. When she did get a shot up, she missed it.”

Baker added three blocks, De Boer and junior Jordan Sullivan two each.

Portland State scored the opening four points of the second half to pull within two, but Montana used a 16-3 run over a six-minute stretch to extend its lead to 47-32.

Six different players scored during the Lady Griz’ decisive run. On the defensive end, Montana held Portland State to 1-of-12 shooting with six turnovers during the same stretch.

The Vikings would not get closer than 12 points the final 12 minutes as Montana picked up its first regular-season win at the Stott Center since the 2006-07 season.

Hill continued her solid point-guard play, finishing with seven assists against just two turnovers to up her season assist-to-turnover ratio to 2.1-to-1. She also may have found her normally reliable 3-point stroke that went AWOL near Thanksgiving.

Hill went 2 for 4 from the arc, with both of her misses looking better than most players’ makes. She finished with eight points, the most she’s totaled since scoring 19 against Idaho on Nov. 18.

“Torry had a really good game, and not just because she finally made a couple of shots, though I’m sure she feels pretty good about that,” Selvig said. “That’s what she needs to start doing, because she is too good of a shooter to be throwing up 1 for 8s.”

VanBrocklin, with 26 points, and Keaton McFadden, with eight off the bench, combined to shoot 54.5 percent, but they got no offensive support from seven teammates who combined to shoot 18.4 percent.

“VanBrocklin is hard to guard,” Selvig said. “She earned every one of her 26 points. She made tough shots, but nobody else got much going for them.”

Montana was minus-14 in rebounding margin against its last five opponents, but the Lady Griz were solid on the boards Saturday. They grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, their second-highest total of the season, and finished with a 48-39 overall advantage.

The win kept Montana in a tie for second in the Big Sky Conference standings with Montana State (9-4, 3-1 BSC) and Eastern Washington (7-6, 3-1 BSC), which lost at home to the Bobcats Saturday afternoon, 73-60.

All three teams are looking up at the last remaining unbeaten, Northern Colorado (6-6, 3-0 BSC), which sent Idaho State (6-7, 1-3 BSC) to its third straight league loss, 71-63  Saturday in Greeley.

The Bears travel north to face Montana State on Thursday and Montana next Saturday. The Lady Griz will first host streaking North Dakota (7-6, 2-2 BSC) Thursday at 7 p.m. UND won its third straight game with a 73-49 thumping of Weber State Saturday in Grand Forks.

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Montana Sports Information  —  GoGriz.com