Lady Griz Host Weber State, Idaho State This Week

By JOEL CARLSON for GoGriz.com

The Montana women’s basketball team will host Weber State and Idaho State this week at Dahlberg Arena as the Big Sky Conference enters week two of 10 of its league schedule. The Lady Griz will face the Wildcats Thursday at 7 p.m. and the Bengals Saturday at 2 p.m.

At a glance:

Montana, which is 6-1 in its last seven games, is 8-5 overall. The Lady Griz opened their Big Sky schedule last week on the road with a split. Montana won at Northern Colorado on Thursday, 64-58, then lost at North Dakota on Saturday, 59-52. Weber State, 1-6 in its last seven games, is 5-8 and opened its league schedule with a pair of home losses. The Wildcats fell to both Eastern Washington, 69-55, and Idaho, 67-60, last week at the Dee Events Center.
Idaho State is 6-7 and came away with a home split in its Big Sky openers last week. The Bengals whipped Idaho 71-50 before falling to Eastern Washington 88-75. The loss to the Eagles snapped a four-game winning streak.

Coverage:

Thursday’s game will air locally on KMPT 930 AM. Saturday’s game will be on KGVO 1290 AM/101.5 FM. Tom Stage and Dick Slater will call the action. … Video coverage is available on the All-Access page at GoGriz.com or WatchBigSky.com. GoGriz.com will feature live stats.

Upcoming:

Montana will have just one game next week. The Lady Griz will host Montana State on Saturday, Jan. 17, at 2 p.m. The game will have statewide television coverage through Cowles Montana Media.

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The Week’s Big 10:

* Redshirt senior point guard Kellie Rubel enters Thursday’s game with 998 career points. With her first basket against Weber State (or two made free throws), Rubel, who scored 835 of those points as Kellie Cole, will become the 31st player in Lady Griz history to reach the 1,000-point milestone. Prediction: Mid-range jumper, maybe 15 feet out, before the first media timeout.

* The entire coaching spectrum will be on display this week. Montana coach Robin Selvig coached his 1,100th game on Saturday at North Dakota and picked up career win No. 829 Thursday at Northern Colorado. … Idaho State coach Seton Sobolewski will coach his 200th game Saturday when the Lady Griz face the Bengals. He is only the second coach in the 41-year history of the ISU program to make it to 200. Ted Anderson (1987-88 through 1994-95) is the program leader at 214. Sobolewski already holds Idaho State coaching records for overall (106) and conference (65) wins. … Weber State’s Bethann Ord, now in her fourth year, coached her 100th game Saturday against Idaho. She has a career record of 14-86.

* Montana continues to win in spite of its offense. The Lady Griz are shooting 36.4 percent this season, a figure that ranks 10th in the Big Sky and in the bottom 20 percent of the national statistics. Montana has reached 40 percent just three times in 13 games. (Perspective: Nearly half of the nation’s Division I teams [167 of 343] are shooting 40 percent or better for the season.) If the trend continues, it will be the lowest team shooting percentage for a Lady Griz team in 37 years under Robin Selvig.

2015-01-07_1959* So why is Montana on a pretty good roll? It ranks 14th nationally in turnovers at just 12.6 per game and after a slow start to the season is now holding its own on the boards. Since returning from Cancun, the Lady Griz have turned those turnover and rebounding numbers into 9.3 more shots per game than their opponents. With a low team shooting percentage, every extra lookhelps.

Saturday’s loss at North Dakota was the archetype. The Lady Griz shot 31.0 percent but were still in a one-possession game on the road in the final minute against the Big Sky preseason favorite because they turned the ball over five fewer times and grabbed nine more offensive rebounds. That resulted in a whopping 20-shot advantage. That that resulted in only three more made field goals than UND had was the problem.

* Also greatly helping: Montana is allowing its opponents to shoot just 34.4 percent this season. If that holds up, it would be the best defensive field goal percentage for the Lady Griz since the 1995-96 season and the third-best in 37 years under coach Robin Selvig. Since allowing Princeton, Wake Forest and Wyoming — all losses — to shoot 44.3, 46.2 and 41.2 percent in three consecutive games, Montana hasn’t allowed any of its last seven opponents to shoot 39 percent. Five of those seven opponents have been held to 33.3 percent or lower.

* If there is such thing as the Big Sky Conference Player of the Week jinx, it was put on Kayleigh Valley. After earning her first career award following the Lady Griz Classic, when she averaged 20 points on 59.1 percent shooting, Valley went 1 for 11 on the road last week and scored six points, none against North Dakota. Or it could be that averaging 20 points on 59.1 percent shooting might catch the eye of an upcoming coach and be game-planned for.

* Montana led the nation in blocked shots two weeks ago at nearly eight per game, but that number will start coming down after peaking with 11-, 13-, 16- and 13-block games in December. It already did last week when the Lady Griz had one block at Northern Colorado and six at North Dakota. Not all teams are Utah Valley and going to stubbornly drive their way into trouble for 40 minutes without a change of tactics.

Redshirt senior center Carly Selvig ranks fifth in the nation at 3.82 blocks per game. Which leads to the most impressive stat of the week: Selvig has 42 blocks this season while committing only 23 fouls. That’s all you need to know about her instincts and skills as a shot-blocker. Retro stat that slipped through the cracks at the time: In two games at the Lady Griz Classic, Selvig had 16 blocks and one foul.

* Montana’s losses this season are looking better and better. Of the five teams to beat the Lady Griz, none has a losing record and combined they are 52-19, a .732 winning percentage. Pacific is 12-3, Princeton is 15-0, Wake Forest is 9-6, Wyoming is 6-6 and North Dakota is 10-4.

* This probably can’t be stressed enough: Before Saturday’s game, only Minnesota and Colorado had either matched or beaten North Dakota on the boards this season. Montana came out even with UND — 45 each side — and grabbed 21 offensive rebounds, six more than any other North Dakota opponent this year.

* Montana has done well against Weber State and Idaho State over the years: 129-20. The Lady Griz are 71-6 against those two teams at home.

Montana Sports Information