Lady Griz Basketball: Wyoming Wins at Montana 60-54

Kaitlyn Mileto went 4 for 5 from 3-point range in the first half to give Wyoming the lead, and the Cowgirls held off Montana’s late comeback attempt to post a 60-54 victory over the Lady Griz Thursday night at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula.

Wyoming (4-2), which also picked up victories in Missoula in December 2010 and December 2012, won for the third straight time at Dahlberg Arena, a feat only accomplished by one other team in the 37-year career of Lady Griz coach Robin Selvig. Oregon State won three straight more than three decades ago.

Montana, which shot 32.3 percent, lost its third straight game to fall to 2-4. The Lady Griz had 10 fewer turnovers than the Cowgirls and took 14 more shots, but Wyoming went 9 for 16 from 3-point range and shot 41.2 percent to hold the lead for the final 27 minutes.

“You’re at home and you shoot 32 percent, and the other team comes in and goes 9 for 16 from three, that’s pretty much the difference,” said Selvig. “It’s just a hard game when you can’t score.

“We were getting good shots, but we didn’t really make any kind of run at them until late in the game.”

Marquelle Dent, Wyoming’s fantastic point guard who finished with 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists, led the Cowgirls from start to finish, but it was Mileto who hit the first-half shots that gave the Cowgirls a lead they would never relinquish.

She hit back-to-back bombs midway through the half to shake Wyoming out of its early offensive doldrums, and it was her fourth 3-pointer of the half that was part of a 9-0 run later in the half that allowed the Cowgirls to build a 30-24 halftime lead.

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Lady Griz vs Wyoming 12/4/14. Photo by ©William Munoz for Make it Missoula.

Mileto entered the game with just 11 3-pointers through Wyoming’s first five games.

“We didn’t defend her smart enough in the first half,” said Selvig. “A couple of those were really deep, but we were still supposed to be on her. We made a couple of mistakes, and she took advantage and got them going when neither team was scoring.”

Alycia Sims was one of the few Montana players to get anything going in the first half. She went 4 for 6 and led the team with eight first-half points to match her season total through the first five games.

Hannah Doran added six points off the bench, key contributions in a game when UM’s starters totaled just 10 first-half points on 4-of-19 shooting.

Wyoming’s lead in the second half reached 13 points and was more than seven until the final minute, when some shaky free-throw shooting by the Cowgirls gave the Lady Griz a glimmer of hope.

A 3-pointer by Maggie Rickman cut an eight-point deficit to five, 57-52, with 51 seconds still to play, and a pair of free throws by Doran with 30 seconds left made it 58-54.

Dent went 1 for 2 from the line on Wyoming’s next possession — the Cowgirls were 5 for 10 in the second half — and Montana got what it wanted with 19 seconds left: a pretty clear look at a 3-pointer from Shanae Gilham from the top of the key. The shot rimmed out, and Montana wouldn’t score again.

The Lady Griz committed just seven turnovers and held the Cowgirls to 16 points below their season scoring average, but Kellie Rubel was limited to six points on 3-of-13 shooting, Carly Selvig, who had five blocks, scored one point, and McCalle Feller was held scoreless.

Sims and Rickman both finished with 12 points, and Doran matched a career high with 11.

Alycia gave us a lift, but that was about it. Kellie played great, but she didn’t make shots, and McCalle didn’t make shots. Our defense was fine, we weren’t turning it over, we were getting way more shots than them, and the boards were even, but we’re at home and shoot 32 percent,” explained Selvig.

“You’ve got to stay confident and positive, and realize that the kids can shoot better than that. And then they have to realize that.”

Montana will host Carroll (5-3) on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Dahlberg Arena.

Montana Sports Information