1993-94 Lady Griz Team is No. 10 on the BSC “25 Greatest Women’s Moments” List

By Megan Lobdell, Big Sky Conference

1993-94 Lady Griz Team

1993-94 Lady Griz Team. Head Coach Robin Selvig and assists, Annette Whitaker-Rocheleau and Shannon Cate-Schweyen.

The 1993-94 women’s basketball season was one for the record books for both Boise State and Montana.

Both teams were ranked in the Associated Press Division I Top 25 when they met in the Big Sky Conference championship game. The game ranks 10th on the Big Sky Conference’s list of “25 Greatest Women’s Moments.”

The regular season came to a close with Montana and Boise State tied for first in the conference with 12-2 records. Both were named co-regular season champions, but a host had to be decided for the Big Sky Conference championship.

“I was also blessed to be a part of the co-Big Sky championship team,” said Montana State head coach Tricia Binford, who was a junior on the Boise State team and went by Tricia Bader. “I knew we had something special by how competitive our practices, open gyms and every workout were. We also had a unique chemistry that couldn’t be matched, and I feel so fortunate to have gone on this ride with such an amazing group.”

The Lady Griz earned the right to host the Big Sky postseason tournament by winning a coin toss that took place after Boise State’s 98-45 win over Idaho. The Broncos’ win over Idaho pushed their league record to 12-2, even with Montana, which lost to Montana State in Bozeman. The Lady Griz and Broncos both finished the season at 22-4 overall and were ranked in the AP poll.

“We were led by the greatest motivational coach I have ever played for, June Daugherty,” said Binford. “The year when she was pregnant came down to a coin flip in the Pavilion, and it was heart-pounding.  You could hear the crowd’s disappointment with the news. But they immediately began to support our hope to take victory on the road at the championship.”

On March 7, 1994, Boise State moved up to No. 18 in the AP poll after the win over Idaho. The Lady Griz fell to 20th after a road loss to in-state rival Montana State. The season marked the first time that two Big Sky teams achieved top-25 status.

“It was fun and neat to see that in the Northwest, a mid-major conference having that kind of excitement,” said longtime Montana head coach Robin Selvig. “We both played competitive non-conference schedules that year, and I think that enabled us to get those types of rankings.”

On March 11, the first night of the Big Sky tournament, Montana faced the No. 4 seed Northern Arizona in front of 5,315 fans. The Lady Griz won 74-41. That was the first time NAU made it to the Big Sky postseason.

In the second game of the night, Boise State played the No. 3 seed Montana State in front of 5,326 fans. The Broncos won 78-68.

That created a showdown in the championship game featuring  Montana and Boise State, a game televised on Prime Sports Northwest to 1.9 million households in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

“They drew big crowds, and we had big crowds,” said Selvig. “Both programs had been really good for a number of years before that, and it all kind of culminated that season. It was pretty neat for the conference and certainly a rarity for a conference our size.”

That Saturday night, 6,327 people came out to see the battle at Dahlberg Arena. Montana won the conference championship 81-65, earning the school’s ninth conference title since 1983.

Montana’s senior Ann Lake earned the Most Valuable Player honors. She was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Kelly Pilcher and Kristy Langton, and Lidiya Varbanova, a senior from Boise State. Cass Bauer, a senior from Montana State, and Bader also made the team.

Boise State didn’t go unnoticed after the tournament. It received an at-large bid into the NCAA competition, the first and only at-large bid in league history.

Montana hosted UNLV in the first round of the NCAA tournament, while Boise State traveled to Seattle, Wash., to take on the University of Washington. Before heading in to the NCAA tournament, Montana moved up in the AP poll to No. 17, while Boise State fell to No. 21.

Montana was making its ninth appearance to the NCAA tournament, and its sixth second-round appearance in 11 years. The Lady Griz won in the first-round action defeating UNLV 77-67. They moved on to Stanford, Calif., to take on the Cardinals of Stanford. Stanford won in the second round by a score of 66-62.

Boise State made its first NCAA post-season appearance in the history of the Bronco program. Boise State lost to Washington 89-61. Bader led Boise State in scoring, posting 16 points.

“What a season, one I will never forget,” said Binford. “To be the first team to sell out the Pavilion when both Montana and Boise State were nationally ranked is something truly special. To be a champion with this team and coaching staff is one I am always grateful for.”

Bronco standout Lidiya Varbanova closed out her career as the nation’s leader in field-goal percentage. She was also the career leader at the time, finishing with a 67.3 mark on her four-year stint. She surpassed Regina Davis’s record of 65.1 set during her four-year career (1984-88) with Georgia Southern.

Montana ended its season with a 25-5 overall record and ranked 17th in the AP poll, while Boise State finished its season ranked No. 21 with a 23-6 record.

Three Big Sky standouts were named to the Kodak All-America Honorable Mention squad: Bauer, Lake and Varbanova.

Montana Sports Information