Game Recap

Lady Griz hold of Sacramento State for weekend sweep

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It was a rise-and-grind kind of morning for the Lady Griz on Saturday inside Dahlberg Arena.

Struggling offensively in a game that tipped off at 10 a.m. and facing a team that had turned a nine-point deficit in the second quarter into a three-point lead in the fourth, Montana responded with a 10-0 run that proved to be decisive.

Fittingly, the Lady Griz survived a last-second 3-point attempt and escaped with a 66-63 victory over a winless but feisty Sacramento State team.

“We had a tough day. We had a tough day shooting, especially from three. It happens,” said coach Mike Petrino, whose team went 1 for 13 from the arc and 34.3 percent overall after shooting 52 percent in its previous three games.

“Down the stretch we lost the lead and then closed out the game. I’m proud of the way we closed out the last five minutes. That’s what we want to do.”

Montana (7-4, 4-2 BSC) led 34-25 at the half and 51-44 going into the fourth. That’s when the Hornets (0-11, 0-8 BSC) let the handful of fans in attendance know that they were not going to leave Missoula quietly.

With the Lady Griz missing five straight shots, Sacramento State hit a pair of 3-pointers, took the lead on two Jazmin Carrasco free throws and went up 56-53 when Emily Enochs scored inside.

With the game’s momentum flipped toward the Hornets, Montana needed someone to step up in a big way. Abby Anderson opened the game missing nine of her first 10 shots, but she was huge in the closing minutes.

With Montana clinging to a one-point lead, 57-56, she scored six straight points to put her team up seven, 63-56.

Her biggest basket, the play of the game, came with 32 seconds left, after Sacramento State had once again fought back to tie it 63-63 on a Carrasco 3-pointer with 46 seconds left.

Inbounding the ball in front of the Lady Griz bench, Madi Schoening went directly to Anderson in the post. She spun and scored and put Montana up for good.

“Abby had a rough shooting day, but she came through when we needed her most. I’m proud of her for that,” said Petrino. “She had good shots. Unfortunately they didn’t go in. I’m proud she had the mental toughness to not let the earlier misses affect her.”

The Hornets missed at the other end, but the Lady Griz only hit one of two free throws with 13.1 seconds left, which gave Sacramento State, down three, one final chance to tie it.

Summer Menke’s 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer was off the mark.

“In one of the timeouts when it was very tight, I said, ‘Hey, you learn more from close games than you do from blowouts. Let’s learn about who we are. Let’s find ways to win in a way we haven’t had to yet,’” said Petrino.

“Our players responded. We didn’t play our best — it wasn’t because of lack of effort — but we made the plays down the stretch.”

Montana put up 90 on Sacramento State on Thursday night, but the points wouldn’t come so easily on Saturday.

The Lady Griz looked inside early and often, the tack that worked so well two days earlier, when they shot 50.8 percent and scored 44 points in the paint.

Outside of shots within three feet of the basket, where it went 9 for 12, Montana was 14 for 55 on Saturday.

“We had some better looks than we did on Thursday, we just didn’t finish them,” said Petrino. “We had some kids who normally score it have a difficult day offensively.”

Sacramento State defended better and also executed better offensively, though the Hornets still shot just 33.9 percent. They hit 10 3-pointers, though, which allowed them to have a chance at the end.

“When they hit 10 threes, with the way they attack you off the dribble, it’s a tough matchup,” said Petrino. “We had a hard time containing them. I’m glad we’re done playing them for now.

“They are an aggressive team. I give a huge credit to them for how competitive they are and how hard they play. That team is going to break through.”

Tied at 17-17 after one, Montana scored the opening seven points of the second quarter. Kyndall Keller — Montana outscored Sacramento State by 13 points in the 18 minutes she was on the floor — opened the period with a 3-pointer, then Schoening scored twice inside to make it 24-17.

The Hornets would not regain the lead until the 7:24 mark of the fourth quarter. They held it until Schoening scored with 4:31 to go. That was followed by Anderson’s six straight points.

Montana would hit just one 3-pointer, a season low, but the Lady Griz would go 19 for 24 from the line and finish +12 on the boards, 19 of them coming on the offensive end.

“When you have a rough day with the three-ball, which has been good to us for the most part, we still found a way to get the ball in the basket enough times to get the win,” said Petrino.

Carmen Gfeller led Montana once again in scoring with 18 points on 8-of-14 shooting, and her all-around game is emerging more and more. She added eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

Her short jumper — shot fake, two dribbles, all net from 10 feet out, a shot that’s almost automatic for her — after Sacramento State had gone up by three early in the fourth quarter was one of the game’s hidden gems.

“Carmen was solid. She had some big buckets for us, timely ones,” said Petrino.

Anderson scored eight in the fourth quarter and finished with 14 points and three blocks. Schoening and Sophia Stiles both added 10.

Montana will now turn its attention to Montana State (7-5, 4-2 BSC), which is coming off an impressive home sweep of Northern Arizona, with a 79-56 win on Thursday, a 90-65 victory on Saturday.

The teams will play at 5 p.m. on Thursday in Bozeman, at noon on Saturday in Missoula.

Press Release courtesy of Joel Carlson – Griz Communicatons.

Photos by Brooks Nuanez. All Rights Reserved.

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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