Eagles End Lady Griz Win Streak at Five

By JOEL CARLSON  for GoGriz.com

For the second time on its two-game road trip, Montana found itself facing a sizeable halftime deficit Saturday afternoon. This time there would be no comeback.

Eastern Washington shot 46.9 percent and held Montana’s two leading scorers to a single field goal in the Eagles’ 71-61 victory at Reese Court in Cheney, Wash.

Eastern (11-10, 7-5 BSC) built a 19-5 lead through the opening 10 minutes and never trailed in the game. All five Eastern Washington starters reached double figures.

No one was a bigger fan of the result than North Dakota (16-6, 11-2 BSC), which defeated Idaho State 64-59 in overtime in Grand Forks Saturday. Montana’s loss gives UND a two-and-a-half game lead on the rest of the Big Sky Conference with just four weekends of league games remaining.

The Lady Griz (14-7, 8-4 BSC) had their five-game winning streak come to an end, while the Eagles extended their own winning streak to three. Montana remains alone in second place, a half-game ahead of Southern Utah, which defeated Sacramento State 93-74 Saturday.

Eastern Washington raced out to leads of 11-2 and 19-5 in a manner not usually allowed by Montana. The Eagles scored 12 first-half points and 16 for the game via the fast break.

“The first half was the key today. They came out and were a step quicker than us,” said UM coach Robin Selvig.

“They got a whole bunch of transitions. They’re down there getting a shot up before we’re back turned around and ready to go. That’s something we have great pride in not giving up, and we gave up way too many of those tonight.”

Senior Torry Hill scored 10 first-half points to keep the Lady Griz close, but a Melissa Williams put-back on an offensive rebound at the buzzer gave Eastern Washington a 35-25 halftime lead.

Montana trailed Portland State 33-25 at the half on Thursday before rallying for a 65-55 victory. The Lady Griz scored 36 second-half points on Saturday, but they couldn’t slow Eastern Washington enough to make a serious run.

Montana’s best chance came after cutting a 15-point deficit to seven, 57-50, with seven minutes left. The Lady Griz got open 3-pointers for freshman Kayleigh Valley and sophomore McCalle Feller that could have cut the lead to four, but both were off the mark, and the Eagles scored the next five points to end the threat.

“We kept making little runs and hanging in, and I thought maybe we were going to have a chance to sneak this one out, but they made enough shots,” Selvig said.

That Montana scored 61 points and had four players in double figures is a credit to the team’s depth on a day when junior Kellie Cole and senior Jordan Sullivan, Montana’s leading scorers, were limited to four points between them on 1-of-14 shooting.

Cole, who was held scoreless after scoring in double figures the previous 12 games, played just five second-half minutes and 22 for the game because of a foot injury suffered in the first half.

Hill finished with a team-high 15 points, and Feller hit three 3-pointers off the bench to score a career-high 13 points. Juniors Carly Selvig and Maggie Rickman both had 10 points on combined 10-of-16 shooting, with Rickman matching a career high with nine rebounds.

“We picked up the slack a little bit, and offensively I thought we had enough points to win today,” Selvig said. “It was their 71 points and their transition baskets that were the difference.”

Former Lady Griz Lexie Nelson led Eastern, which had just eight turnovers, with 19 points.

Montana, which is 6-0 at home in Big Sky games and now 2-4 on the road, will host Northern Colorado and North Dakota next week before playing four straight on the road.

In other league games Saturday, Northern Colorado won 70-63 at home over Weber State and Portland State won 72-61 at home over Montana State.