Lady Griz Never Trail in 77-45 Victory

By JOEL CARLSON for GoGriz.com

Seniors Katie Baker and Kenzie De Boer both had big offensive nights and Montana shot a season-best 48.4 percent in a 77-45 victory over North Dakota Thursday night at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula.

Montana (10-4, 4-1 BSC) won for the seventh time in nine games and moved into a first-place tie in the Big Sky Conference with Montana State (10-4, 4-1 BSC). The Bobcats knocked Northern Colorado (6-7, 3-1 BSC) off the top of the league standings with a 65-58 win over the Bears in Bozeman Thursday night.

Montana will host Northern Colorado Saturday at 2 p.m., while Montana State will host North Dakota.

Baker went 7 for 11 from the floor to finish with a game-high 17 points, and De Boer went 7 for 10 and added 15 as the Lady Griz jumped out to a double-digit lead before the game was seven minutes gone against a team that had won its previous three games.

North Dakota (7-7, 2-3 BSC) did not hit its first field goal until the 11:56 mark and went 4 for 20 (.200) in the first half as the Lady Griz rolled to a 32-14 halftime lead behind 50.0-percent shooting.

The only negative was nine first-half turnovers, just two shy of the team’s per-game average, but even that was hard for Lady Griz coach Robin Selvig to get too worked up over after the game.

“I’m not going to complain about much tonight,” he said. “I never would have imagined us getting away from them like that.

“The key was that we had a good start. We defended them well, and we shot the ball well in the first half, and the thing just snowballed.”

Hindering UND’s attempt to scratch its way back into the game after finding itself in an early hole were turnovers. North Dakota had 13 in the first half and 21 for the game. Montana converted those turnovers into 22 points.

“They had a lot of turnovers in the first half,” Selvig said. “They were doing a lot of things off the dribble, and we did a good job moving our feet. We were doing a good job of being where we needed to be.”

The teams played evenly through the opening seven minutes of the second half, but 3-pointers by freshman Shanae Gilham and sophomore Kellie Cole midway through the half got the Montana offense rolling again.

The lead reached a game-high 39 points, 71-32, when sophomore Maggie Rickman connected inside with just over three minutes to play.

With both teams deep into their benches, North Dakota scored 13 points in the final three minutes to up its final shooting percentage to 28.3 and cut the final margin to 32.

“I give our kids credit,” Selvig said. “We never let North Dakota get anything going tonight and never allowed them to find a spark.

“We had solid play from a lot of people, and it ended up being one that you don’t have to sweat out at the end.”

Ten different players scored for Montana, and 10 ended up playing between 15 and 22 minutes.

The Lady Griz got 35 points off the bench, the ninth straight game UM’s reserves have outscored the opponent’s bench, and Montana finished with a 42-18 advantage in points in the paint.

Cy’erra Mills led North Dakota with 10 points off the bench.

Thursday was a night for the home teams in the Big Sky Conference, with all five home teams holding court. In addition to Montana and Montana State winning, Northern Arizona beat Eastern Washington 83-68, Idaho State defeated Southern Utah 80-71, and Sacramento State held off Portland State 81-77.

Updated Big Sky Conference standings

Montana                         4-1         10-4

Montana State                4-1         10-4

Northern Colorado         3-1          6-7

Eastern Washington       3-2          7-7

Southern Utah                2-2          8-6

Sacramento State           2-2          7-6

Northern Arizona            2-2         3-10

Idaho State                     2-3          7-7

North Dakota                  2-3          7-7

Portland State                 1-4          7-7

Weber State                   0-4         0-13

Lady Griz SeasonStats

Montana Sports Information  —  GoGriz.com