Lady Griz knock off Cougars, advance in WNIT (Photo Gallery)


No Torry Hill, no Haley Vining and three minutes into the game no Carly Selvig? No problem.

Montana got 21 points and 10 rebounds from Jordan Sullivan and 22 points and a career-high nine assists from Kellie Cole and posted a 90-78 victory over Washington State Wednesday night at Dahlberg Arena in the opening round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

The Lady Griz (23-10) raced out to a 10-2 lead, held the Cougars (17-17), who had four wins this season over ranked teams, to 25 first-half points and never trailed in winning their first national tournament game since 1995.

“Watching (Washington State) on video and seeing what they’ve done, and no Torry and no Haley and then Carly goes down, what an effort by everyone,” UM coach Robin Selvig said.

“You look at them and they are talented, quick and athletic. There is a reason they’ve beaten four ranked teams this year. What a heck of a win for us.”

The game wasn’t won in the first half, but the tone was set early. Maggie Rickman and Cole both hit 3-pointers in the first minute of the game, and Washington State missed eight of its first nine shots. And that fueled one of the most electric crowds Dahlberg Arena has hosted this season.

The only negative for the Lady Griz in the first half was Selvig’s knee injury less than three minutes into the game. She would not return, but, like Hill’s and Vining’s knee injuries, that just provided an opportunity for someone else to step up.

Freshman Kayleigh Valley continued her recent superb play with a season-high 15 points in a season-high 26 minutes, and freshman Alycia Sims scored six points and grabbed nine rebounds while playing a season-high 27 minutes.

Montana held Washington State, which entered the game averaging 74.2 points per game, to 25.0 percent first-half shooting and 25 points.

Not only did the Lady Griz defend well, they kept the Cougars off the glass. Montana had a 31-21 rebounding advantage in the first half and gave up just six second-chance points and went to the locker room with a 36-25 lead.

“We got off to a great start and shot the ball pretty well, but the great thing we did in the first half was really defend them,” Selvig said. “They are a team that can score in a hurry, and we never really let them get going.

“Our deal was we wanted them shooting from the perimeter and not layups, and then we had to board it. I thought we got a lot of tough defensive rebounds tonight.”

Washington State scored 53 second-half points, but it wasn’t enough to get closer than eight points, and Montana led by at least 10 points the final 10 minutes.

The Lady Griz went 5 for 7 from 3-point range in the second half and seemed to knock down a three every time Washington State appeared poised to make a threatening run.

Montana also went 27 for 31 (.871) from the free throw line in the second half and scored 54 points, its highest-scoring half of the season.

McCalle Feller, after missing her first two shots, hit five of her final seven to score 13 points and give Montana four double-digit scorers, a first for the Lady Griz since Feb. 8.

Montana, which went 9 for 20 (.450) from 3-point range, finished with a 48-38 rebounding advantage and had just six turnovers, one off its season low.

Lia Galdeira scored 22 points and added six rebounds and three assists for Washington State, which was playing in its first national tournament game since 1991 and just its second in program history.

Montana will face either San Diego or Cal Poly in the WNIT’s round of 32. The Toreros and Mustangs play Thursday night at San Diego.

The Lady Griz’ next game will be played in the March 22-25 window at either Dahlberg Arena or at the winner of Thursday night’s game. Check Thursday night or Friday morning for updates.

Montana Sports Information