Lady Griz Heat Up, Win Bigh Sky Opener On The Road

By JOEL CARLSON for GoGriz.com

McCalle Feller scored a career-high 21 points and Montana shot 55.6 percent in the second half to rally for a 64-58 victory over Northern Colorado Thursday afternoon at UNC’s Bank of Colorado Arena in Greeley in the Big Sky Conference opener for both teams.

The Lady Griz (8-4, 1-0 BSC), who won their sixth straight game, trailed 26-21 at the half but outscored the Bears 43-32 in the second half to snap a three-game losing streak at Northern Colorado. It was also Montana’s third straight road victory. Two of those wins have come after trailing by five at the break.

“I really think it’s a good sign,” said UM coach Robin Selvig. “You’re down at the half and you’re on the road. Are you going to have a mature team that can go out and handle those situations? We did, and we took control of the game.”

That Montana did would have come as a surprise to anyone who watched the first half.

The Lady Griz were getting it done defensively, holding Northern Colorado to 28.0 percent shooting, but Montana went just 5 for 24 (.208) and scored a season-low 21 first-half points.

After redshirt junior Hannah Doran put Montana up 13-11 at the 8:32 mark, the Lady Griz would not score another field goal until redshirt senior Kellie Rubel’s basket in the paint in the closing seconds.

The Lady Griz managed to stay close because they had only five turnovers in the first half and held Northern Colorado’s starters to 13 points on 3-of-16 shooting.

“I told the team at halftime, let’s not get frustrated. I thought we played well. We weren’t scoring, but we were doing a good job defensively,” said Selvig.

“I know we have some players who can make some shots. I just didn’t think we’d make as many as we did the second half. We came out and lit it up from three.”

Redshirt senior Carly Selvig was limited to just five minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls. She had a putback and hit a jumper on Montana’s first two possessions of the second half, and that sparked the offense to life.

Rubel hit a 3-pointer on Montana’s next possession to tie it at 28, just 70 seconds into the second half, and the Lady Griz, who matched their first-half scoring output in the opening eight minutes of the second half, were off and running.

Feller, who would go 4 for 4 from the arc in the second half and 6 for 8 for the game, tied things at 38 with a three, and that started a 15-1 run that put Montana up 50-39 at the eight-minute mark.

BBQRubel and senior Maggie Rickman also had 3-pointers in the decisive surge. Montana went 7 for 10 from 3-point range in the second half, 10 for 21 for the game, season highs in both makes andpercentage.

“We finally made shots in the second half. You feel like you’re a really good team when they’re going down,” said Selvig.

Feller appeared to insert the dagger when she hit a 3-pointer from 10 feet behind the top of the key and the shot clock running down to put Montana up 60-50 with just 1:17 to go.

A Lady Griz turnover and a missed front-end free throw allowed the Bears to score on three straight possessions and trim the lead to 60-56 with 15 seconds left, but Feller and Rubel both went 2 for 2 from the line in the final seconds to give Montana the victory.

“This is a really good win for us, because they are a darn good basketball team,” said Selvig. “We moved the ball, we got good shots, and we were in charge of it in the second half at their place.

“From the mental-toughness side of things, that was really good.”

Feller scored 14 of her 21 points in the second half, Rubel finished with 14, giving her 982 for her career, and Rickman added nine points and a team-high six rebounds.

The bench added just eight points, but it also had only one turnover. Montana had eight for the game and now has a mere 25 the last three games.

Montana, which leads the nation in blocked shots, had just one against the Bears, who scored 28 points in the paint.

UNC center Stephanie Lee scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Her quick, back-to-the-basket spin moves in the post kept her free of the long arms of Selvig, who had blocked 29 shots in Montana’s previous four games.

D’Shara Strange led Northern Colorado, which went 3 for 20 from 3-point range, with 16 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Kyleigh Hiser added 14 points off the bench.

Montana will face preseason league favorite North Dakota (8-4) Saturday at 1 p.m. (MT) at Grand Forks. UND hosts Montana State Thursday night.

Montana Sports Information