Morales is No. 10 on the BSC’s List of “25 Greatest Female Athletes”

By Megan Lobdell, Big Sky Conference

She is known as the best Native American to come out of the University of Montana women’s basketball program.

Mandy Morales played for the Lady Griz from 2005-09 and ranks 10th on the Big Sky Conference’s list of “25 Greatest Female Athletes.” Morales, who is of Comanche and Mexican heritage, serves as a role model for Native American basketball hopefuls.

Morales, a 5-9 guard from Billings, Mont., finished her career ranked fourth in league history with 1,959 career points, which is second to the legendary Shannon Cate in school history. Cate, also from Billings, scored 2,172 points from 1988-1992.

Morales, Montana’s Gatorade Player of the Year out of Billings West High School, wanted to play college ball in the Pac-10, so she passed on a Lady Griz scholarship to play at Arizona State. After graduating from West, Morales took summer classes at Arizona State. By autumn, she was back in the Treasure State at Montana.

“I went to summer school down there and just came back for the Montana-Wyoming All-Star Game and saw Dana Conway and all my ex-teammates,” said Morales in an article on

Because of transfer rules, Morales had to sit out the 2004-05 season.

“It was such a great decision I made coming back here,” said Morales on


Morales made her presence known at Montana. In her first season with the Lady Griz, she was named the Big Sky’s Outstanding Freshman after averaging 15.9 points a game. She shot 40.8 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free-throw line. She added 117 rebounds and 95 assists that year.

“Mandy certainly was a great player for us,” said longtime Montana coach Robin Selvig. “The team had tremendous success during her time here.”

Morales finished her career as a four-time honorable mention All-American and a four-time first team All-Big Sky selection.

In Morales’ first two years with the Lady Griz, Montana lost in the semifinals of the Big Sky tournament. Montana was upset by Northern Arizona both seasons. The Lady Griz lost 73-66 in 2005-06 and 64-59 in 2006-07. Montana was the tournament host in Morales’ sophomore year. She was named to the all-tournament team.

That same fate wasn’t going to happen the next two years. During the 2007-08 season, Morales was named regular-season MVP after she averaged 16.2 points a game and shot 46.1 percent from the floor.

The Lady Griz hosted and won the tournament championship, defeating Portland State in the semifinals and in-state rival Montana State 101-65 in the championship. During the tournament, Morales fought through considerable bone-on-bone foot pain. In the championship game alone, she scored 31 points.

Morales was named tournament MVP and the Lady Griz saw Vanderbilt in Albuquerque, N.M., in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Montana lost 75-47.

During Morales’ last season with the Lady Griz, Montana would host the postseason tournament again. Montana defeated Idaho State in the semifinals 70-56 and defeated Portland State in the championship 92-62 to head to the NCAA tournament.

After the championship, Morales was named tournament MVP again after being named regular-season MVP that season.

Morales averaged 17.1 points a game that season and recorded 195 rebounds and 144 assists.

During that championship game against the Vikings, Morales scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the win.

“It was pretty emotional,” said Morales of the championship win in a 2009 article with USA Today. “I got chills. The crowd was great. They were really into the game. I love it when the crowd is like that. I’m really going to miss this place.”

After the Big Sky championship, Montana headed to Seattle, Wash., to play Pittsburgh in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Montana lost 64-35.

“The thing about Mandy was, she was not only a really good scorer and a complete player, but she made the people around her better,” Selvig said. “She was a great passer, so she got people the ball where they could be successful.”

Morales finished her career as a four-time honorable mention All-American and a four-time first team All-Big Sky selection. Morales is one of five players in league history to earn first-team honors four straight years. She was also named Big Sky Conference player of the week a record 13 times.

Morales was also tied for fifth in league history with 587 career assists. She is the only player in league history to score 1,500 points and dish out 500 assists. She holds the single-game record for free-throw percentage, making 18-of-18 in a 2006 game against Santa Clara. She finished all-time in free throws made at 533.

Morales played one season of professional basketball in Greece. Currently, Morales is living in Missoula, Mont., and is the junior varsity girls’ basketball coach for Sentinel High School. She also hosts an Upward Basketball camp in June with her dad.