Lady Griz Pull Out 62-48 Victory over Bobcat


With Montana struggling offensively and on the brink of dropping its first home game to a Big Sky Conference opponent in two years, the Lady Griz did what’s become routine for them this season. They locked down on defense and made enough plays on the other end to pull out another win.

Montana State built a 43-35 lead midway through the second half on Montana Saturday afternoon at Dahlberg Arena, but the Bobcats would go more than nine minutes without a field goal, and the Lady Griz rallied back for a 62-48 victory in front of a season-high crowd of 3,535.

The win was the ninth in the last 10 games for Montana (11-5, 4-1 BSC), which joined Sacramento State (7-10, 5-1 BSC) and Eastern Washington (11-5, 4-1 BSC) atop the Big Sky Conference as teams with a single league loss. It was Montana’s 20th straight win at Dahlberg Arena against a league opponent.

“We’ve won a number of games this year when we’ve shot poorly but haven’t given up much, and we’re making a little run here and there. That was the nature of this game,” said UM coach Robin Selvig, who improved to 73-17 against Montana State.

Robin and Shannon

Head Coach Robin Selvig and Assistant Head Coach Shannon Cate Schweyen. Photo by ©William Munoz.

“I guess we’re back to our old formula of not making many shots and having to hold the other team down.”

Had Montana not come back to win, it could have looked to the start of both the first and second halves as the reason.

The Lady Griz missed their first eight shots of the game to fall into an 8-0 hole by the first media timeout.

Sparked by Shanae Gilham off the bench, Montana took a 29-23 halftime lead, but Montana State again ruled the start of the second half. The Bobcats hit 7 of their first 11 shots, and Jasmine Hommes’ jumper at the 10:47 mark made it 43-35.

Montana State had a pair of possessions to extend its lead beyond eight, but couldn’t. A basket by Kellie Rubel started Montana’s comeback, and it was McCalle Feller who hit the game’s biggest shot and electrified what had been an anxious crowd.

With the Lady Griz still trailing 43-40, Feller drilled a long 3-pointer from the right wing to tie it. On Montana’s next possession, she found Maggie Rickman for a fast-break layup that put the Lady Griz up for good.

Feller’s second 3-pointer of the half made it 54-44, and four free throws by the Lady Griz upped their lead to 58-44 and capped a 23-1 run. During that stretch, the Bobcats missed 11 straight shots and turned the ball over five times.

“We spotted them eight at the start of the game, then gave them a good start to the second half, which is a critical time of the game,” said Selvig. “We let them get some momentum going both halves.

“We had a nice run after we were down, and we had two or three nice plays to get the crowd back into it and took the momentum back.”

Montana shot just 31.5 percent and nobody on the team dazzled offensively, but enough players did enough good things. Rubel finished with 12 points, as did Kayleigh Valley. The pair made just four baskets between them but went 16 for 21 from the line.

Feller finished with 11 points, Rickman had eight points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

Payton Ferris, who scored 15 in the first half, led Montana State with 20 points. Nobody else had more than eight. That included Hommes, who was averaging 18.5 points entering the game. Her minutes were limited by foul trouble and she totaled a season-low six points on 3-of-14 shooting.

Montana State shot a season-low 28.6 percent. Montana, which ranks second nationally in the category, finished with seven blocks.

“Jasmine is a really good player, but we’ve got some shot-changers, and she never really got it going where she could shoot in a comfortable area,” said Selvig. “And they didn’t shoot very well on the perimeter.”

BBQHommes fouled out with 3:33 remaining after running over a Montana player in the open court. Hommes’ fifth foul drew MSU coach Tricia Binford nearly to midcourt. On her return to the bench, her clipboard toss earned Montana State a technical foul.

Rubel missed both free throws following the technical, but by that time the game had been decided.

The win improved Montana to 44-6 at home against Montana State, though Selvig was more interested after the game on focusing on a team that has lost just once since early December.

“The rivalry thing isn’t a big deal to me, but the momentum thing is,” he said.

Montana will take that momentum on the road next week for games at Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. The Lady Griz will face the Lumberjacks (6-10, 2-3 BSC) on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Flagstaff and the Thunderbirds (10-5, 3-2 BSC) on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Cedar City.

Northern Arizona gave up an 11-point, second-half lead and lost 69-68 at Idaho State (8-9, 3-3 BSC) Saturday afternoon on a Grace Kenyon basket for ISU with three seconds left. Southern Utah shot 31.3 percent and turned it over 20 times in a 60-39 loss at Weber State (7-10, 2-4 BSC).

In other league games, North Dakota (11-6, 3-2 BSC) won 68-58 at Northern Colorado (8-8, 2-3 BSC), Idaho (8-8, 2-3 BSC) won 77-49 at home over Portland State (3-14, 1-5 BSC) and Sacramento State won at Eastern Washington 73-67.