Lady Griz Keep Hot Hands, Down Eagles 81-64


Montana reached 80 points for the third straight game and locked down Eastern Washington’s three leading scorers in an 81-64 victory over the Eagles Thursday night at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula.

Jordan Sullivan scored a career-high 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting, and Kellie Cole added 22, her third straight game with 21 or more points, as Montana improved to 2-1 in Big Sky Conference games, 8-4 overall.

Eastern Washington, which had won six of seven entering Thursday’s game, dropped to 6-7 overall, 2-2 in league play.

The Eagles opened the scoring in the first minute, but the Lady Griz scored 10 straight points to take a lead they would never relinquish.

The first-half lead twice reached 12 points, and Montana took a 39-30 advantage to the locker room after shooting 44.1 percent and committing just four turnovers.


Kellie Cole. Photo by Austin Smith

Cole scored five points in the opening minutes of the second half, and when Sullivan hit a jumper in the lane with 16:48 remaining, the Lady Griz went up by 18, 50-32.

But the Eagles, who were voted the league’s preseason favorite, weren’t done. A 3-pointer by former Lady Griz Lexie Nelson sparked a 10-0 run that cut the lead to eight.

A Sullivan three stopped Eastern’s surge, but a basket by Aubrey Ashenfelter and a 3-pointer by Hayley Hodgins cut the Montana advantage to six, 53-47, with 12 minutes still to play.

At the game’s most critical juncture, the Lady Griz responded. Montana scored the next 11 points, with five coming from Sullivan, and held Eastern Washington without a field goal for over five minutes to put the game out of reach.

Montana’s lead was comfortably in double figures the final 10 minutes.

The Lady Griz shot 54.5 percent in the second half and, at 48.2 percent for the game, nearly shot 50 percent or better for the third straight outing.

“I thought we had two pretty good halves,” UM coach Robin Selvig said. “We established some good leads, and then they made some runs, but every time we answered.


Jordan Sullivan. Photo by Austin Smith

Jordan made big shots all night long. She buried a couple of threes when they had us scrambling a little bit. We made big shots when we needed to.”

Easy to overlook in the team’s third straight high-scoring output was the work Montana did on Nelson, Hodgins and Laura Hughes, Eastern’s three leading scorers. The threesome was held nearly 18 points under its combined season scoring average of 45.8 points per game.

Nelson, who entered the game averaging 17.9 points per game, and Hodgins shot 50 percent from the field, but they got limited looks and scored just 21 points.

But their frustrations on the offensive end were nothing compared to Hughes’. The 6-foot-2 center, who was averaging 15.6 points on 62 percent shooting this season, had her first two shot attempts in the game’s opening two minutes blocked by UM’s Carly Selvig, and Hughes never recovered.

She finished 1 for 8 with seven points, all of them coming in the second half, when she abandoned her post moves and instead just drove to the rim in an attempt to draw contact.

“She couldn’t shoot over Carly in the first half,” Selvig said. “The first two or three times Hughes got it, Carly got a piece of it or made her throw something up. The second half she started putting her head down and going into us and got to the foul line.

“She’s a 62-percent shooter, and she goes 1 for 8 today. That made a difference.”

Selvig finished with three blocks and added 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting, and Torry Hill had a game-high seven assists and three steals.

Sullivan and Cole both shot better than 50 percent in the game and both went 3 for 4 from 3-point range. Cole also had a season-high four steals.

Alycia Sims came off the bench and spelled Selvig defensively for 16 quality minutes. She finished with six points and a game-high eight rebounds.

The win leaves Montana one of three teams, along with Montana State and Southern Utah, with one league loss. Those teams are all chasing North Dakota and Sacramento State, both of which remained unbeaten in league play with wins Thursday.

Northern Colorado won 68-49 at Weber State, North Dakota won 48-47 at Idaho State, Montana State won 89-78 at home over Portland State, and Sacramento State won 104-79 at home over Northern Arizona.

Montana will host Portland State (4-9, 2-2 BSC) Saturday at 2 p.m. at Dahlberg Arena.