Eagles Hold On, Snap Lady Griz’ Winning Streak


Eastern Washington built a 10-point second-half lead and held on for a 65-64 victory over Montana Thursday night at Reese Court at Cheney, Wash., to snap the Lady Griz’ seven-game winning streak.

The Eagles ended a four-game losing streak and beat Montana on Reese Court for the third straight year.

The Lady Griz (15-6, 8-2 BSC), who lost for the first time since Jan. 3, led 41-39, but a 10-0 run by the Eagles (12-8, 5-4 BSC) gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Trailing 62-52 with one minute remaining, Montana got three-pointers from Maggie Rickman and Hannah Doran to keep the pressure on Eastern Washington, and the Eagles nearly gave the game away.

Two Kayleigh Valley free throws with 14 seconds left made it 65-60. Off the inbound pass, Lexie Nelson tried to dribble through backcourt pressure, and she was stripped by Valley. Kellie Rubel turned it into a layup to make it 65-62 with six seconds left.

On Eastern Washington’s next possession, Hayley Hodgins tried to advance the ball upcourt with a pass, and Rickman came up with a steal near midcourt. She fed Rubel near the top of the key with two seconds remaining, and the fifth-year senior made an uncharacteristic mistake given the time and score.

An open look at a three-pointer was available had she stopped and popped. Instead she dribbled to the basket for a harmless lay-in at the buzzer that did nothing but cut the final margin to a single point.

Montana scored a dozen points the final 55 seconds, but the hole was a little too deep, and the Eagles were able to do just enough to beat the Lady Griz for the fourth time in the teams’ last six meetings.

“We dug a hole the second half, and it didn’t look like we were going to have a chance to come back, but the ladies did a heck of a job the last minute,” said UM coach Robin Selvig. “We actually could have had a shot that could have sent it to overtime.”

After finding an offensive rhythm at home last weekend, with hot hands from the three-point line and balanced scoring from starters to reserves, it was only three players who led the offensive charge Thursday, and three-point shots did not fall when they could have helped the most.

Rickman, who went 9 for 13, finished with a game-high 20 points. Rubel added 14 and Valley 12. Nobody else, including Big Sky Conference Player of the Week McCalle Feller, scored more than five, and the bench only added eight points.

“The game is so much easier when you’re making threes, and we didn’t shoot threes great tonight,” said Selvig, whose team went 7 for 24 (.292) from the arc.

“We had looks, and when you’re making those, the game gets a little easier. We didn’t, but we still gave ourselves a chance by playing some defense and hanging in there.”

Montana came out strong in the opening minutes and went up 6-0, but that would be its largest lead of the game.

Eastern Washington came back and took a 9-8 lead on a Jade Redmon jumper, and a tight first half ended up deadlocked 28-28 at the break.

The second half was back-and-forth as well, until Eastern’s 10-0 run, which came on seven straight points from Delaney Hodgins and a three-pointer from Lexie Nelson.

Montana pulled within three, 55-52, on a Rickman jumper with 4:56 remaining. Montana’s next points would not come until Rickman’s three-pointer with 55 seconds left started a comeback that came up a point short.

The Lady Griz missed six straight shots between Rickman’s makes to fall behind 62-52.

“We went cold and dug ourselves a hole,” said Selvig. “We had some go down and out, and we didn’t shoot the three very well when we had good looks.

“They had some second-chance baskets in the second half, and they hurt us putting it down and going to the hole a couple of times.”

Montana has been getting offensive sparks from Feller, a starter, and Shanae Gilham off the bench, but neither was able to ignite anything Thursday. Feller went 2 for 9 and at five points had her lowest scoring game since early December. Gilham missed all three of her shots off the bench.

Carly Selvig had a stuffed stat line, with five points, nine rebounds, a career-high seven assists and four blocks, and Alycia Sims added five points and six rebounds off the bench.

Hayley Hodgins led Eastern’s balanced offensive attack with 14 points. Redmon added 13, Delaney Hodgins 10. Nelson and Melissa Williams both finished with nine points.

The Eagles turned the ball over just seven times, a season low.

Montana, which held a two-game lead in the loss column when the week began, still sits atop the Big Sky Conference, but the loss brought the Lady Griz within a game’s reach of the chase pack.

Montana has a one-game lead on Sacramento State (9-12, 7-3 BSC), which was off Thursday, and North Dakota (15-7, 7-3 BSC). UND won for the fifth time in six games Thursday with a 67-52 home-court victory over Southern Utah.

In other Big Sky games Thursday, Northern Arizona won 51-49 at Northern Colorado, and Montana State won 76-65 at Idaho, the Bobcats’ third straight win.

Montana plays at Idaho (9-11, 3-6 BSC) Saturday afternoon.

Montana Sports Information