Lady Griz Host Argos Tonight (Monday) in Exhibition Game

By JOEL CARLSON

The Montana women’s basketball team will wrap up its exhibition schedule when it hosts Great Falls Monday night at 7 p.m. at Dahlberg Arena.

The Lady Griz, who defeated Carroll 59-54 on Wednesday, will open the regular season next Sunday when they host Seattle at 1 p.m. Home games against MSU Northern, Pacific and Portland will follow before Montana plays its first road games of the season Thanksgiving weekend at Lehigh’s tournament.

Coverage: Monday’s game will air locally on KGVO 1290 AM/101.5 FM, with Tom Stage and Dick Slater calling the action. Streaming video of the game and live stats will be available through gogriz.com.

Preview: Montana never led by more than seven points and finally outlasted Carroll on Wednesday night, winning 59-54 behind 17 points from McCalle Feller.

On Monday the task gets a little harder, at least if preseason polls are any sort of guide. Great Falls is ranked No. 11 in NAIA and was picked second in the Frontier Conference preseason coaches’ poll behind MSU Northern. Carroll was ranked 24th nationally and picked fourth in the Frontier poll.

Great Falls, which is led by sixth-year coach Bill Himmelberg, is coming off its best season in program history. The Argos went 24-10 and advanced to the Elite Eight at the NAIA national tournament last winter. That team featured five players who averaged at least 10 points per game.

Three of those players are back for 2015-16, led by senior guard Erin Legel of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, who averaged a team-high 17.7 points on her way to first-team All-Frontier Conference honors for the second straight year.

She is Great Falls’ career leader in assists and could be its scoring and rebounding leader as well by the end of this season.

Robin and ShannonHer name may not be familiar to Lady Griz fans, but her game — 3-pointers, runners in the lane — will bring back memories. Legel scored 30 points on Montana last November in the Lady Griz’ 88-63 exhibitionvictory.

Lindsey Abramson, a center who averaged 14.2 points and 11.6 rebounds last season is gone. She’s been replaced by 6-foot-4 Whitney George, a transfer from Gillette (Wyo.) College.

“Great Falls is another good team from the Frontier Conference. There are some really talented teams in the Frontier, and Great Falls is one of the more impressive teams,” said Lady Griz coach Robin Selvig.

“They were in the national tournament last year and have a real nice player who got 30 on us last year. The coach is doing a great job over there.”

Great Falls, which has just three Montanans on its roster, is already off to a 4-0 start this season, which includes one forfeit. The Argos’ margin of victory in their other three wins is by more than 41 points. Monday’s game also is an exhibition for UGF.

Montana opened its exhibition season on Wednesday with a hard-fought 59-54 victory over Carroll. The teams were tied at the half, and the Lady Griz took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter.

The lead did not reach a game-high seven points until Feller converted a three-point play with 1:51 remaining to make it 58-51.
“That’s what you want out of these exhibitions,” said Selvig. “You want to be tested so you can learn things about your team, and we were. Had we not played really hard and done some good things, we would have lost that game.

“It was a starting point. This team has a ways to go, so you have to be patient. I’d like to think we can shoot the ball better and score better than we did in that game. But it was a good starting point.”

Carroll had a nice inside-out balance — the Saints outshot the Lady Griz from 3-point range and matched Montana in the paint with 28 points — and that put UM’s defense to the test.

After allowing Carroll to shoot 48.0 percent in the first half, Montana limited the Saints to 28.6 percent second-half shooting.

Outside of Sierra Anderson, who hit five of her six shots, and Mekayla Isaak, who went 3-for-7 for six points and a game-high 10 rebounds, Montana struggled shooting the ball. The starters shot 30.2 percent, and the team finished at 36.8 percent.

Montana had 13 turnovers, which wasn’t a costly number, and went just 13-for-21 (.619) from the line.

“There were plenty of good things in that game, but as you’d expect in your first exhibition game, there was plenty we were not happy with,” said Selvig. “We had some really poor offensive execution, and we made a lot of defensive mistakes. And Carroll is good enough that we couldn’t get away with it.

“They ran good things, things we hadn’t faced in practice. They posted strong and physical, and we had to adjust. When we weren’t in the right place at the right time, they took advantage of it, and that really showed on video.”

Kayleigh Valley had 11 points and nine rebounds but shot just 4-for-15. Feller connected three times from the arc on her way to 17 points and added four steals and a pair of blocks.

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