Montana Wins at Southern Utah, Sweeps Road Trip

By JOEL CARLSON

The Montana women’s basketball team completed an impressive sweep of the Northern Arizona-Southern Utah road trip with a physical 59-37 victory over the Thunderbirds Saturday night at Cedar City, Utah.

The Lady Griz (13-5, 6-1 BSC), who won for the 11th time in 12 games, trailed for just 29 seconds in the two games and held Northern Arizona and Southern Utah to 79 points on 22.0 percent shooting.

“To come on the road and go to two people’s places and hold them to 42 and 37, that’s a pretty good effort on that end of the floor,” said UM coach Robin Selvig.

“This is a heck of a good trip for us. I don’t know what’s going on where we were able to get away from a couple of teams at their places, but I’m pretty proud of the ladies for doing it.”

Saturday’s win over Southern Utah (11-6, 4-3 BSC) keeps Montana even with Sacramento State (9-10, 7-1 BSC) atop the Big Sky Conference standings in the loss column. The Lady Griz will host the Hornets next Saturday afternoon at Dahlberg Arena in the teams’ only meeting of the season.

Facing a team that had won four of five, including a 74-69 victory over Montana State Thursday night, Montana never trailed against Southern Utah.

McCalle Feller, who would go 4 for 6 from the arc, hit a pair of 3-pointers in the opening minutes to give her team an early 10-2 lead, and a Kellie Rubel jumper at the 11:47 mark made it 19-4.

Southern Utah wasn’t going to be able to hang with Montana in a more free-flowing game, so the Thunderbirds upped the level of physicality, and play bogged down for the final 30 minutes.

The Lady Griz would score just 14 more points in the half, and a pair of Marquelle Funk 3-pointers allowed Southern Utah to climb to within 33-21 at the half.

“We started out really well. We were passing it, we were making shots, we had a great start to the game. But once we got a lead, they got after us pretty good and slowed things down,” said Selvig.

“It turned into a battle. I don’t know that I’ve seen a more physical game.”

Southern Utah pulled to within 10, 36-26, on an Iva Georgieva 3-pointer four minutes into the second half, but with the way the Lady Griz were defending, the lead was safe.

Feller answered Georgieva’s triple with one of her own to make it 39-26, and the Thunderbirds would go the next five minutes without a point. By then Montana had built a 45-26 lead, and the final outcome was decided.

Kayleigh Valley led Montana with 13 points. Feller added 12, all on 3-pointers, and Rubel totaled 10 points and five assists in 36 minutes.

Carly Selvig and Maggie Rickman combined to shoot 3 for 18, but they grabbed 23 rebounds. Rickman, with 12, reached double-figure boards for the third time in eight games, and Selvig’s 11 matched a career high.

BBQMontana was outrebounded 54-50, the first time since the Cancun Challenge the Lady Griz have been outboarded by four or more. Twenty-five of the Thunderbirds’ rebounds came on the offensive end, but with the way it was shooting, SUU could only convert those extra touches into a mere nine second-chancepoints.

Southern Utah’s starters went 7 for 43 and combined to score just 20 points, and Montana held the Thunderbirds to 18.8 percent shooting as a team, a season-low for the Lady Griz.

Four of Montana’s last five opponents have failed to reach 50 points or shoot 30 percent. That effort has dropped UM’s season field goal percentage defense to .322.

Alycia Sims and Shanae Gilham both scored seven points off the bench, Selvig blocked four shots, and Montana had another solid game from the 3-point line, going 8 for 21 (.381).

“Everybody did something good tonight. I could find something good to say about everybody,” said Selvig.

Before next Saturday’s game against Sacramento State, Montana will host Portland State (3-16, 1-7 BSC) on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Vikings lost at home Saturday to Idaho State (9-10, 4-4 BSC) 65-53.

In other league games Saturday, Sacramento State rolled over Weber State (8-11, 3-5 BSC) 108-65, North Dakota (13-6, 5-2 BSC) beat Eastern Washington (11-7, 4-3 BSC) 96-82, Northern Colorado (10-8, 4-3 BSC) defeated Idaho (8-10, 2-5 BSC) 70-52, and Northern Arizona (7-11, 3-4 BSC) knocked off Montana State (7-11, 1-6 BSC) 79-64.

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