Gilham Sparks Montana to Road Win at Idaho State

By Joel Carlson

With Montana struggling to find some second-half offense and locked in a tight back-and-forth battle with Idaho State Thursday night, it was a freshman who came to the rescue.

She played just eight minutes in the second half, but Shanae Gilham scored all 10 of her points in that key stretch, and she helped the Lady Griz rally for a 57-52 victory over the Bengals at Pocatello, Idaho.

“Shanae gave us a huge lift,” Montana coach Robin Selvig said. “We were having a hard time scoring, and you know you’re going to have those stretches against these guys, and Shanae came in and really scored it when we needed it. She was the difference.”

After falling behind 17-9 in the first eight minutes, Montana fought back and built a 30-22 lead by halftime. Idaho State opened the second half on an 11-0 run, and that put the teams in the familiar low-scoring, possession-to-possession battle that is becoming routine when the Bengals and Lady Griz meet.

With Idaho State leading 38-36, Gilham struck with a 3-pointer from the top of the key for her first points of the game. Her two free throws a minute later made it 41-38.

The Bengals came back to take a 43-42 lead, but Gilham found just the sliver of space she needed behind a screen at the top of the key, and her second 3-pointer put Montana up for good, 45-43.

An Idaho State turnover was followed by another 3-pointer for Montana, which is 17 for 34 from the arc in its last two games, this one coming from the left wing by junior Torry Hill.

Freshman, Shanae Gilham scored all 10 of her points in eight minutes in the second half to lift the Lady Griz over ISU. File photo by AustinSmith.

Following an Idaho State miss, Gilham got the ball on the left wing, faked her defender into closing out too hard, and nonchalantly went to the rim for an uncontested layup that made it 50-43 with 6:03 to play.

Idaho State would get no closer than five points the rest of the way.

“It’s a great win for us,” said Selvig, who watched his team turn it over just 12 times after committing 40 turnovers in its previous two games.

“Idaho State is one of the really good teams in the league, but we came in ready to go and were very mentally and physically tough.”

It was the second win on Montana’s current three-game road trip, and it allowed the Lady Griz (13-5, 7-2 BSC) to keep pace with Big Sky leader Montana State (14-4, 8-1 BSC). The Bobcats, who play at ISU Saturday afternoon, had no trouble at Weber State Thursday night, winning 67-37.

Montana plays at Weber State (0-18, 0-9 BSC) Saturday afternoon in Ogden, Utah. The Wildcats have dropped 37 straight games.

Led by Kaela Oakes, who told the Idaho State Journal earlier in the week that she and her teammates “want to kill (Montana),” the Bengals jumped out to a 17-9 lead just eight minutes into the game.

The lead wouldn’t last. Montana held Idaho State to a single field goal over a nearly nine-minute stretch, and senior Katie Baker’s 11 first-half points helped the Lady Griz not just pull even but extend their lead to 30-22 at the break.

Montana went nearly six minutes in the second half without scoring, and that allowed Idaho State to build a 33-30 lead.

The Lady Griz answered with back-to-back baskets by sophomore Kellie Cole and senior Ali Hurley, and neither team would lead by more than three until Hill’s 3-pointer at the 6:44 mark put Montana up 48-43.

“It was knock-out, drag-out on both ends of the floor trying to score,” Selvig said. “It wasn’t closely called on either end, but it was called the same, and we hung in. We were having a hard time getting anything going, then Shanae gave us a little breathing room.”

Montana snapped Idaho State’s four-game winning streak by holding the Bengals to 34.5-percent shooting and forcing 17 turnovers. That helped mitigate ISU’s 42-32 rebounding advantage.

“We had a good effort out of everybody tonight,” Selvig said. “And defensively I thought we were really good. To hold them to 52 on their court is a good effort by us.”

Baker led Montana with 13 points and also grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Hill added 10 points, as did Gilham, who was perfect from both the field and free throw line.

Oakes scored 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting in the loss and reached 1,000 career points in the process. Idaho State’s other four starters shot 22.2 percent.

It was a good night for the road teams in the Big Sky Conference, with the visitors winning four of five games. In addition to road wins for Montana and Montana State, Sacramento State won at North Dakota 79-77 and Southern Utah won in overtime at Portland State 70-68.

The lone home team to win was Northern Colorado, which knocked off Northern Arizona 69-54.

Montana vs Southern Utah BoxScore

Montana Sports Information  —  GoGriz.com