Lady Griz fall at Bozeman 65-57

By JOEL CARLSON

With the Big Sky Conference regular-season championship already wrapped up, the Montana women’s basketball team fell in its final regular-season game Saturday afternoon, losing to Montana State 65-57 at MSU’s Worthington Arena in Bozeman.

The Lady Griz (21-8, 14-4 BSC) fell behind 11-0 in the opening four minutes and never held a lead. It was just the second time this season Montana has gone an entire game without once holding an advantage on the scoreboard.

Montana State (15-14, 9-9 BSC), which has won eight of its last 11, snapped a five-game losing streak to Montana and defeated the Lady Griz at Worthington Arena for the first time since 2007-08.

“We just didn’t have our heads where they needed to be at the start of the game,” said UM coach Robin Selvig. “We played poorly to start with, they played well to start with, and that turned out to be the difference.

“They out-hustled, out-scrapped and out-shot us the first 10-12 minutes, and we couldn’t make up the difference.”

Montana State (15-14, 9-9 BSC) clinched a spot at next week’s eight-team Big Sky Conference tournament on Thursday. With Saturday’s win the Bobcats guaranteed they won’t enter the tournament as the No. 8 seed and have to face the Lady Griz at Dahlberg Arena in the quarterfinal round.

With nothing tangible to play for Saturday, Montana fell behind big early. Montana State raced out to an 11-0 lead and built its advantage to 24-5 midway through the opening half.

“We had no patience early on,” said Selvig. “We took the first shot that came along, and that meant no offensive rebounds, because we weren’t moving the ball or moving bodies.”

The Lady Griz used 3-pointers by Maggie Rickman and Hannah Doran as part of an 8-0 run, and Montana was able to close the deficit to 30-17 by halftime despite shooting 5 for 23 (.217) and creating no second-chance points.

Montana continued to chip away at the lead early in the second half and pulled to within five, 33-28, when Kellie Rubel converted a fast-break layup.

But she missed the and-one free throw that could have cut it to four, and Montana State answered by scoring 15 of the game’s next 17 points to retake control and put the game out of reach.

BBQThe lead remained 10 or more until Shanae Gilham’s 3-pointer in the final minute provided the finalmargin.

“We didn’t play a very good game,” said Selvig. “But I’m proud of the way we battled, because it looked like it could have been a 30-point game.

“We fought and battled and finally made some shots, but we just dug too big of a hole and couldn’t get it done. It wasn’t one of our best games, but credit to them. They played great early, and that was the difference.”

Jasmine Hommes, who was held to six points in the teams’ first meeting this season at Missoula, a 62-48 Lady Griz victory, led Montana State with 25 points and 13 rebounds.

Rubel scored 16 points for Montana, which had a season-low five assists and shot 32.8 percent while getting out-rebounded by eight. McCalle Feller added 14 points.

The Big Sky Conference women’s tournament will open either Wednesday or Thursday, depending on the host site of the men’s tournament. That will be determined Saturday night.