Lady Griz Basketball Opens Regular Season Monday Night

By JOEL CARLSON for GoGriz.com

The Montana women’s basketball team will open its regular-season schedule Monday night when the Lady Griz host Montana-Western at Dahlberg Arena. The game tips off at 7 p.m.

The Bulldogs, who lost Friday night at Weber State in what was an exhibition game for UMW, is 4-2 this season.

* Montana picked up a pair of exhibition wins last week, 88-63 over Great Falls and 75-46 over Minot State. The Lady Griz defeated the Bulldogs in an exhibition game last season at Dahlberg Arena, 67-46.

* Montana-Western is off to a 4-2 start this season but dropped an ugly 77-31 decision Friday night at Weber State. The Bulldogs had more turnovers (32) than points and made just two second-half baskets.

* Through Montana-Western’s six countable games, 5-10 junior forward Sierra Higheagle is averaging a team-high 11.8 points per game.

Kellie Cole

Kellie Cole Rubel. Photo by ©Austin Smith for Make ItMissoula.

* Montana should have a new — though familiar — face on the floor Monday night. Redshirt junior point guard Haley Vining (knee), who missed both exhibition games, is back practicing and is expected to get minutes behind redshirt senior Kellie Cole.

When she was healthy in 2013-14, Vining was a solid player off the bench behind point guard Torry Hill. Through last season’s first eight games, she had 20 assists and only four turnovers.

* Redshirt senior forward Carly Selvig (knee) won’t play Monday and is still possibly weeks away from getting cleared for her first action of the season, though she is practicing on a limited basis. The games in two weeks at Cancun remain an optimist’s hope for the return of the 2014 Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

* Sophomore forward Alycia Sims suffered a concussion in the second half of Montana’s exhibition win over Minot State and is questionable for Monday’s game. If she can’t go, expect redshirt freshman forward Mekayla Isaak to get the start in her regular-season collegiate debut.

Isaak, who recorded an 11-point, 10-rebound double-double in the Maroon and Silver scrimmage last month, had four points and six rebounds in 16 minutes against Great Falls and six points and six rebounds in 14 minutes against Minot State.

* Monday’s other starters will be Kellie Cole Rubel at the point, junior McCalle Feller at the shooting guard, sophomore Kayleigh Valley at the three and senior Maggie Rickman at the four.

Head Coach Robin Selvig calls for a timeout. Lady Griz go on to lose to Wyoming 58-56. Dahlberg Arena, December 6, 2012. Photo by Austin Smith.

Head Coach Robin Selvig calls for a timeout. Lady Griz go on to lose to Wyoming 58-56. Dahlberg Arena, December 6, 2012. Photo by AustinSmith.

* If Cole Rubel duplicates what she did last season to earn first-team All-Big Sky honors and Feller plays like she did against Minot State, Montana will have one of the league’s top backcourts this winter.

Against the Beavers, Feller had 15 points (on just nine shots) and nine rebounds, to go along with three assists and three steals in 27 minutes of work.

* Keep an eye on the rebounding numbers Monday. The Lady Griz were out-boarded by Minot State in their last game 45-41 and gave up 17 offensive rebounds.

“We want to continue to show improvement in some areas, particularly rebounding,” said UM coach Robin Selvig. “What we want out of these early games is afterwards being able to say we’re doing something better than we were before.”

* Redshirt sophomore Shanae Gilham went 5 for 7 from 3-point range in Montana’s two exhibition games while playing 19 and 20 minutes. No matter how hot her shooting remains, Gilham’s minutes will remain limited all season. Selvig would rather have a semi-healthy Gilham for fewer minutes all season than risk any further knee injuries that keep her out of games or jeopardize her career.

* Look for redshirt junior Hannah Doran’s minutes to grow this season after averaging 3.9 per game in 2012-13 and 7.2 last season. Doran had a quietly efficient line of eight points (on 3-of-4 shooting), six rebounds and three steals against Minot State in 20 minutes.

“Hannah is doing well,” said Selvig. “Not that she’s ever played poorly, but she’s getting better and getting more opportunities to show what she can do.”

* Fans will have to wait until next season to see freshman guard Maddie Keast of Missoula play. She is practicing after off-season foot surgery, but she missed both exhibition games and will redshirt this season.

* Monday’s game will be the only chance to watch the Lady Griz at home until they host Wyoming on Thursday, Dec. 4.

In between, Montana will face a tough four-game stretch. The Lady Griz will play at Pacific, a 98-67 winner in its season opener against Cal State Stanislaus Friday night, next Friday, then face UNC Charlotte, Princeton and Wake Forest Thanksgiving weekend in Cancun.

“We’re going to be really tested,” said Selvig. “But it will be good for us. Hopefully we’ll learn a lot and pull some Ws, but whatever happens, it will be a real growing time for this team.”

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Media Coverage:  Monday’s game will be aired locally on KGVO 1290 AM and 101.5 FM, with Tom Stage and Dick Slater on the broadcast. Video coverage and live stats will be available through GoGriz.com.

Game Notes

Montana Sports Information