Lady Griz Face Skylights Sunday in Season Opener


The Montana women’s basketball team will open its regular season on Sunday afternoon when it hosts MSU Northern at Dahlberg Arena. The Lady Griz and Skylights will tip off at 2 p.m.

Montana at a glance: After two exhibition games, Montana opens its regular season at home for the first time since the 2008-09 season. … The Lady Griz defeated MSU Billings 69-65 in their first exhibition game and Montana Western 67-46 on Thursday night. … Montana coach Robin Selvig begins his 36th season coaching the Lady Griz. He has a career record of 798-255. … Redshirt junior Kellie Cole led Montana in scoring in both exhibition games. She averaged 18.5 points on 70 percent shooting against the Yellowjackets and Bulldogs. … The Lady Griz will feature an all-upperclassmen starting lineup with seniors Torry Hill and Jordan Sullivan, redshirt juniors Kellie Cole and Carly Selvig and junior Maggie Rickman. … Montana has opened the season 0-1 the last four years and five of the last six. … Redshirt freshman Molly Klinker, sidelined by a shoulder injury, avoided surgery and is on the verge of returning to practice. She missed both exhibition games.

The dress rehearsal is over: All 13 healthy players saw minutes in the two exhibition games, but that trend will come to an end Sundaywith the start of the regular season.

“This is for real now, so it won’t be a deal where we play all 13 kids,” Selvig said. “We’ll have some kids who are going to be playing a lot of minutes.

“We’re starting to look at how we’re going to play. It’s still an ongoing process, though, because there are not many things right now set in stone.”

The starting lineup, which features the five players with significant experience from last season, is set. Beyond that, Sunday is step one in determining how deep Montana will go in 203-14 and who the players will be that break into the regular rotation.

Redshirt sophomore point guard Haley Vining, who had five assists and one turnover in two exhibition games, will certainly be in the rotation, as will sophomore guard McCalle Feller and freshman forward Alycia Sims. Beyond that it will be a work in progress.

“If we’re going to be really good, we need a lot of growth from our kids who don’t have experience,” Selvig said. “Right now we have little to no experience coming off the bench, but a lot of those kids are showing good things.

“I feel good about where this team can ultimately go to, but in the meantime we need to develop depth, we need to gain experience, and we need to keep getting better defensively. There is a ton of room to grow with this team. Hopefully we’ll see improvement every game.”

More on MSU Northern: The Yellowjackets, who are led by ninth-year coach Chris Mouat, are 4-0 this season, with wins over the University of Lethbridge (53-43) and Mount Royal University (78-42) at home in October and neutral-site victories in Spokane over Eastern Oregon (58-55) and Corban College (66-48) earlier this month.

MSUN faced Wyoming Friday night at Sheridan, Wyo., in what was an exhibition game for the Skylights. The Cowgirls led 35-29 at the half and pulled away for a 71-57 win. Both teams shot better than 43 percent.

A’Jha Edwards, a 6-5 junior forward from Pima (Ariz.) Community College, averaged 11.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game on 60 percent shooting in Northern’s 4-0 start. She had a team-high 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting Friday against Wyoming.

The Skylights went 7 for 12 (.583) from 3-point range and got out-rebounded by only four, 34-30, but they were hurt by turnovers. MSU Northern gave it up 18 times, which led to 23 Wyoming points.

“They are 4-0 and look good,” Selvig said. “They have the 6-5 girl and a 6-1 JC transfer, so they have some size. We had a big size advantage Thursday against Western, but we won’t have that kind of mismatch on Sunday.

“They run good things and are a well-coached team.”

Montana won the teams’ meeting last season in Missoula 75-45. Six players scored between 8 and 12 points for the Lady Griz.

Around the Big Sky Conference: Five Big Sky teams opened their season Friday, and the league came away with a 4-1 record. … At Ogden, Utah, Weber State snapped its 48-game losing streak with a 107-25 victory over Walla Walla University. The Wildcats led 57-11 at the half and forced 33 turnovers. … At Pocatello, Idaho, Idaho State defeated Black Hills State 60-41. The Bengals shot just 29 percent but had a 59-30 rebounding advantage. … At Sacramento, Calif., Sac State won its first game under new coach Bunky Harkleroad 92-73 over Cal State Northridge. As expected, the Hornets took more than half (42 of 83) of their shots from 3-point range, going 17 for 42 (.405). Freshman forward Hallie Gennett, from Post Falls, Idaho, went 8 for 9 from the arc and scored a game-high 26 points. … At Boise, Idaho, Southern Utah survived a foul-fest and won at Boise State 90-86. The two teams were whistled for 55 fouls and took 79 free throws. SUU had seven players in double figures. … At Portland, Ore., Portland handed the Big Sky its only loss when the Pilots beat preseason league favorite Eastern Washington 68-65. The Eagles, who were led by Laura Hughes’ 17 points, shot 42.6 percent and had just 10 turnovers, but Portland scored 18 points from the free throw line to EWU’s six.

Upcoming: Montana will host Portland on Monday, Nov. 18. The Pilots (1-0) play at Oregon on Tuesday and at Washington on Friday before traveling to Missoula.

Coverage: The game will be broadcast on KGVO 1290 AM and 101.5 FM, with Tom Stage and Dick Slater calling the action. … A video broadcast will be available with a subscription to the All-Access page on The site will also offer live stats.

Montana Sports Information