Lady Griz Host Bobcats Saturday Afternoon

By JOEL CARLSON

The Montana women’s basketball team will host Montana State Saturday at 2 p.m. at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula. It is the only game of the week for both teams.

Coverage: Saturday’s game will be aired statewide on Cowles Montana Media stations, with Chris Byers and Dominic Sheldon calling the action. The game will be available on FOX stations in Missoula, Bozeman, Butte, Kalispell, Helena and Great Falls. … The game will have radio coverage in the Missoula area on KGVO 1290 AM/101.5 FM, with Tom Stage and Dick Slater. … Fans can watch the game through the All-Access page at GoGriz.com or at WatchBigSky.com.

Maroon out: Fans of Montana are asked to wear maroon to the game, lest they stick out in their seating section for noncompliance.

2015-01-16_1049Where they stand: Through two of 10 weeks of Big Sky Conference games, Montana (10-5, 3-1 BSC) is tied for second in the league standings, one game in the loss column behind Eastern Washington (10-4, 3-0 BSC) and even with Sacramento State (5-10, 3-1BSC).

Montana State (7-8, 1-3 BSC), which picked up a much-needed victory Saturday over Weber State, is tied for 10th in the league standings with Portland State (3-12, 1-3 BSC).

What’s at stake (Montana): The Lady Griz’ four-game winning streak over Montana State. … Montana’s 19-game winning streak at Dahlberg Arena against Big Sky Conference opponents. … UM’s position one game in the loss column behind Big Sky leader Eastern Washington. … The mushrooming mojo that results from winning eight of nine games.

What’s at stake (Montana State): With a 1-3 league start, a game at Montana, then a tricky trip to Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, the Bobcats are trying to avoid falling into crisis mode before the calendar even flips to February.

What’s at stake (both teams): A point in the 2014-15 Brawl of the Wild Series. The standings are currently even at three points apiece, with Montana State sweeping the men’s and women’s cross country points and collecting one of two for volleyball. Montana picked up one point in volleyball and two for its football victory. Montana won the 2013-14 series 14-3.

Most recently: Montana and Montana State hosted Weber State and Idaho State last week. The Lady Griz picked up a sweep, winning 53-43 over the Wildcats and 77-65 over the Bengals. The Bobcats dropped a 65-62 decision to ISU, then rebounded with a 62-54 victory over WSU.

History notes: Montana leads the all-time series with Montana State 75-22 and holds a 43-6 advantage in games played in Missoula, though three of those six MSU wins have come in the previous five seasons. … Montana State’s 58-49 win at Dahlberg Arena on Jan. 19, 2013, was the last time Montana has lost at home to a Big Sky school. … Montana completed a three-game sweep of Montana State last season. The Lady Griz won 84-79 in overtime at home, a game that had to go to an extra session despite Montana holding a 17-point lead with 12 minutes remaining. Montana won 72-65 at Bozeman and defeated the Bobcats 75-66 at Grand Forks, N.D., in the Big Sky Conference tournament quarterfinals.

Rubel named Big Sky Player of the Week: Redshirt senior point guard Kellie Rubel was named the Big Sky Player of the Week Monday after averaging 19.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in Montana’s victories over Weber State and Idaho State last week.

It was the fifth time in her career Rubel has been recognized, the fourth-highest total in program history. Mandy Morales was honored 13 times, Shannon Cate nine times, Hollie Tyler eight times.

Sophomore Kellie Cole played a key role in UM's win over Idaho.  Photo by Austin Smith.

 Kellie Cole became the 31sr player in Lady Griz History to reach 1,000 career points. Photo by AustinSmith.

Rubel reaches 1,000 career points: Kellie Rubel entered Montana’s game against Weber State with 998 career points, and she wasted little time becoming the 31st player in Lady Griz history to reach 1,000, scoring before the game was even two minutes old.

With a solid conference season and some postseason games, Rubel has a shot at cracking the top 10, which would be quite a feat for a player who scored just 175 points as a redshirt freshman and 179 as a redshirt sophomore.

Montana trends:

* Montana has won eight of its last nine games, its best stretch since winning 11 of 12 in 2012-13.

* The Lady Griz shot a season-best 54.2 percent in their last game, a 77-65 victory over Idaho State. They hadn’t shot even 40 percent in their previous seven games. It was only the fourth time in 15 games this season that Montana shot better than 40 percent.

* Montana has outrebounded its last nine opponents by 70, an average of nearly eight boards per game. Only Utah Valley, at +1, and Northern Colorado, at +2, have outrebounded the Lady Griz in that nine-game stretch.

* After getting credited with just a single blocked shot at Northern Colorado, Montana blocked six at North Dakota, eight on Thursday against Weber State and six on Saturday against Idaho State. That blocking binge has the Lady Griz ranked second nationally at 7.1 per game, behind only Connecticut’s 7.3 average. That’s good company.

* Until Idaho State shot 40.0 percent against Montana on Saturday, the Lady Griz had held eight straight opponents to sub-40 percent shooting. Montana’s field goal percentage defense of .341 ranks first in the Big Sky and 11th nationally.

* Montana turned the ball over 10, 7, 8 and 12 times leading up to Thursday’s game against Weber State, then had an uncharacteristic 13 in the first half against the pesky Wildcats. The Lady Griz had just six in the second half and were back down to 12 against Idaho State. At 13.0 per game, Montana ranks first in the Big Sky and 17th nationally.

lady_griz_stats

Six matchups within the matchup:

* Jasmine Hommes vs. Carly Selvig: Hommes, MSU’s 6-1 junior forward, has led the Bobcats in scoring in 14 of their 15 games this season and is averaging a team-high 18.5 points on 52.1 percent shooting. She does her best work in the paint, which is where Selvig, the 2014 Big Sky Conference Defensive MVP, has put up a brick wall this season. She is averaging 3.7 blocks per game, which ranks ninth nationally, and is a big reason Montana’s opponents are shooting just 34.1 percent.

* Robin Selvig vs. Tricia Binford: Selvig is 72-17 against the Bobcats, 16-5 against MSU since Binford took over prior to the 2005-06 season. Of Binford’s five wins in the coaches’ 21 head-to-head meetings, three have come at Dahlberg Arena, which is pretty good considering Montana has a 43-6 all-time edge against Montana State in games played at Missoula.

* Montana State vs. the free throw line: The Bobcats are shooting 62.6 percent from the foul line this season, a figure that ranks 304th nationally. Unless that improves, it will continue to cost MSU games, as it did last Thursday, when the Bobcats went 19 for 36 (.528) from the line in what turned out to be a three-point loss to Idaho State.

* Kellie Rubel vs. Lindsay Stockton: Montana’s point guard is playing like a fifth-year senior. A first-team All-Big Sky Conference selection a year ago as a shooting guard, Rubel is averaging 17.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and nearly four assists through four league games. Stockton, who ranks third in the Big Sky in assists, is more playmaker than point-producer, but she’s a capable scorer, with 10 or more points in six of the team’s last nine games.

* Hannah Doran vs. the opponent’s momentum: Doran went through a rough stretch from the 3-point line, going 0 for 16 from the arc over a six-game stretch to close out 2014, but since the start of Big Sky play, she’s gone 6 for 7 in four games, and it’s felt like every one of them has helped swing the game. The first three of her six makes came when Montana trailed by either one or three points. Those threes either tied the game or gave the Lady Griz the lead. The other three came with Montana leading by four or six points and helped extend its lead to a more comfortable margin.

* Hawks vs. Hawks: Both teams have two players who are products of Bozeman High School. Montana features redshirt senior Kellie Rubel as a starter and redshirt sophomore Shanae Gilham off the bench. Montana State counters with junior Alexa Dawkins as a starter and freshman Amy Davis, who signed a National Letter of Intent to play at Idaho State but never made it to Pocatello, off the bench.

Lady Griz three-dot notes: Pacific (13-3) and Princeton (17-0), the teams which handed Montana its first two loses of the season, are a combined 30-3. … The Lady Griz trailed for just 3:41 last week while sweeping Weber State and Idaho State. … Carly Selvig is 10 blocks from moving past Lisa McLeod (1985-89) and into second place on the UM career list. McLeod totaled 237, Selvig has 228. Both trail Hollie Tyler (2001-05) and her program-record 297. … Montana is 9-0 this season when leading with two minutes to play. … Maggie Rickman is averaging 9.1 rebounds the last eight games. … Kayleigh Valley averaged 20 points on 59.1 percent shooting to earn MVP honors at the Lady Griz Classic and her first Big Sky Conference Player of the Week award. In the four games since, she’s averaged 4.5 points on 21.7 percent shooting. … Selvig ranks second on the team in assists behind Kellie Rubel. … Still amazing: Selvig has 48 blocked shot this year while committing only 27 fouls. For comparison, Northern Colorado’s Stephanie Lee, who ranks second in the Big Sky, has 37 blocks and 39 fouls. … Messing with fire: Montana is shooting 61.5 percent from the free throw line in Big Sky games.

Big Sky Conference notes:

* Atop this week’s power poll: Eastern Washington, the league’s only remaining unbeaten. The Eagles don’t have any depth — EWU’s bench barely averages seven points per game — but their starting five has Cheney thinking about the possibility of hosting both men’s and women’s tournaments.

* Special shoutout: To Portland State, which got 26 points from Emily Easom and somehow upset former power poll kingpin North Dakota at the Stott Center Saturday afternoon, 73-70, handing UND a 0-2 road trip.

* This week in depressing news: Southern Utah senior guard Hailey Mandelko’s season came to an end in the opening minutes against Sacramento State on Jan. 3 when she tore an ACL. Mandelko was the best athlete on a Big Sky roster and as fun to watch play as anyone in the league.

* Thursday’s games: Southern Utah at Idaho State, Northern Arizona at Weber State, Portland State at Eastern Washington, Sacramento State at Idaho

* Thursday’s game to watch: First-year Big Sky Conference member Idaho gets its first taste of Sacramento State. The Hornets are not the same on the road as they are at the Nest, so expect the Vandals, who are 1-2 in league games, to pick up an important home win.

* Saturday’s games: Montana State at Montana, North Dakota at Northern Colorado, Northern Arizona at Idaho State, Southern Utah at Weber State, Sacramento State at Eastern Washington, Portland State at Idaho

* Saturday’s game to watch: North Dakota suddenly looks vulnerable. UND and Northern Colorado both have 2-2 league records and don’t want to pick up a third in the teams’ only game of the week.

Upcoming: Montana will play at Northern Arizona and Southern Utah next week.

 

Montana Sports Information