Lady Griz Rebound, Top Dragons 58-50


Kayleigh Valley matched a career high with 29 points, and the Montana women’s basketball team led from start to finish Sunday in a 58-50 victory over Drexel in the consolation game of the Christmas City Classic in Bethlehem, Pa.

The Lady Griz led 27-19 at the half and built a 19-point advantage in the fourth quarter before a late surge by the Dragons (2-3), who lost 67-55 to Villanova on Saturday, cut the final margin to a misleading eight points.

The victory came one day after an 80-53 loss to tournament host Lehigh.

“This was a great win against a really good team,” said UM coach Robin Selvig. “After taking a beating yesterday and watching these guys take Villanova to the wire, I thought we were going to have our hands full, but we took control from the start and never let them get anything going.”

Valley, who played all 40 minutes, shot 50 percent from the floor, knocked down both of her 3-point attempts and went 11 for 13 from the free throw line to match the 29 points she scored last Sunday against Portland.

McCalle Feller added 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting, and Alycia Sims finished with six points, nine rebounds and a team- and career-high five assists.

“I was starting to think we had our hands a little too full coming out here to this tournament, so it was great to see the ladies come out with some fight and toughness today, and be the team that took charge,” said Selvig.

Montana scored the game’s first five points and led 20-13 after the first quarter, then locked down on Drexel, which ended up taking more than half of its shots (32 of 61) from 3-point range.

The Dragons were 2 for 14 in the second quarter, 3 for 12 in the third as the Lady Griz built a 42-27 lead entering the final period. Baskets by Feller and Sims early in the fourth quarter put Montana up 46-27.

Ten straight points by Drexel, aided by 3-pointers by Alexis Smith and Meghan Creighton, cut the lead to 46-37, but Feller hit a three of her own on Montana’s next possession, and Sims added a layup and Mekayla Isaak a pair of free throws to extend the lead back to 16 points, 53-37.

Drexel, which shot 31.1 percent, scored 10 of the game’s final 11 points in the last two minutes to cut its final deficit to eight.

“Our defense was really good, and I had some doubts after yesterday, because we couldn’t stop (Lehigh),” said Selvig. “You start to wonder, Can we beat a good team when we’re not at home?”

Drexel was shooting 24.4 percent through three quarters and was 3 for 21 (.143) from the arc. The Dragons were 9 for 20 in the fourth quarter and needed all 23 points they scored in the period just to reach 50.

“These guys rely on the three, and they did not shoot well from three,” said Selvig. “I thought we were into a lot of their shots.

“This was a great bounce-back win from what was a disappointing game against a really good team yesterday. You don’t beat a good team like this unless everybody does some good things, so you can really have no complaints about this.”

Montana shot 35.2 percent, a low percentage that highlights even more the work the Lady Griz did defensively to have control for much of the game, and finished with a 46-37 rebounding advantage.

Montana will host Cal State Fullerton (2-5) next Sunday at 1 p.m. at Dahlberg Arena. The Titans, who have lost five straight after opening the season with wins over Portland State and Loyola Marymount, play at Montana State Thursday night.


Montana Sports Information