Game Recap

Lady Griz mount epic rally to win at Northern Colorado


The Lady Griz rang in the New Year in exciting fashion on Friday night.

Down 19 late in the third quarter on the road and with nothing going its way, Montana completed a furious rally over the final 11 minutes and one second, outscoring Northern Colorado on the Bears’ home floor 27-4 to close out the game and win 60-56 Friday night in Greeley.

The Lady Griz (3-2, 1-0 BSC) scored the final eight points of the third quarter, which was the secret ingredient in the whole comeback, then held Northern Colorado to 1-of-17 shooting in the fourth to win their Big Sky Conference opener.

“Credit to our kids, the players that finished the game, the players that played in the second half, the players on the bench. Our energy changed,” said coach Mike Petrino, who brought in Dr. Charles Palmer, a UM professor of sport and performance psychology, to talk to his team this week.

“I want to give a huge shout-out to Dr. Charlie Palmer, who gave us a good sports psychology talk in resiliency. He must have been a visionary, because we couldn’t have been in a more resilient position than that.”

Indeed. With the score tied 15-15 early in the second quarter, Northern Colorado went to work, scoring the game’s next 10 points and later taking a 37-25 lead to the locker room.

The Big Sky’s top shooting team, Montana was just 9 for 34 (.265) in the first half, 1 of 9 from the arc. At the other end, Northern Colorado was rolling, particularly from deep. The Bears went 5 of 11 from distance.

“We had good shots in the first half and we missed them, and we let the frustration of missing affect us on the defensive end,” said Petrino. “We let missed shots beat us on the defensive end. We let negative plays affect our energy.”

Petrino says he talked to his team at halftime about resiliency, and the Lady Griz would need it after the Bears came out and delivered what could have been the knockout blow, back-to-back 3-pointers to open the third quarter and up their lead to 18, 43-25.

The lead reached 19 points, 52-33, on a Northern Colorado free throw with 1:24 left in the third quarter.

It didn’t feel like much at the time, Carmen Gfeller’s basket 23 seconds later, but it started an improbable comeback.

The game’s key sequence came in the final 23 seconds of the third quarter.

Kyndall Keller hit a pair of free throws. A backcourt strip and layup by Jordyn Schweyen made it 52-39. Right before the buzzer, another UNC turnover led to a Karsen Murphy basket.

A 6-0 run over 23 seconds, an 8-0 run to close the period. What had been nothing now had a flicker of hope.

“Karsen and Jordyn made huge plays for us. The way we ended the third quarter, that little run we had, put us in position,” said Petrino.

“If we don’t have the efforts by Jordyn and Karsen to end that third quarter, we wouldn’t have put ourselves in position to win the game.”

It was nothing dramatic in the fourth quarter, at least offensively. Montana shot just 5 for 16 over the final 10 minutes after all, not the script of a thrilling comeback.

But the Lady Griz were perfect at the line, 6 for 6, just as they were for the entire game, going 18 for 18.

After Montana cut the lead to three, 53-50, on a turnaround by Abby Anderson with 5:18 to go, Northern Colorado answered with what was its only made basket over the game’s final 12:56.

It was the Bears’ last of 10 3-pointers, and it made it 56-50. Northern Colorado wouldn’t score another point.

“The biggest adjustment, and it was no secret, we just went to our zone,” said Petrino. “And when we started making some shots, we started playing with more flow.”

Montana still trailed 56-50 when the clock ticked under three minutes. That’s when Madi Schoening hit her only shot of the game, the shot of the night, a 3-pointer from the top of the key.

Less than a minute later, Gfeller tracked down an offensive rebound in the corner, saw she wasn’t being guarded and let it fly. Swish: 56-56.

Rattled, Northern Colorado hoisted up a pair of 3-pointers on its next possession, misfiring both times.

“To have a 19-point lead and not be able to close out that game, that’s on me,” said UNC coach Jenny Huth. “It’s lineups and adjustments that I have to clean up.

“At the end of the game, we had a hard time making a couple of plays. We were just not real fluid.”

That Keller, a freshman, was on the floor in the final minute, reveals a lot. Just five games into her collegiate career, she has the trust of the coaching staff.

She rewarded their belief, getting into the paint for a floater with 36 seconds left. Montana led 58-56, its first lead since it was 6-5.

Thanks to a pair of offensive rebounds, the Bears got three shots to tie it or take the lead. Miss. Miss with an Anderson block. Miss.

Keller finished the Bears off with a pair of late free throws for the game’s final points.

“Kyndall comes off the bench and has a great performance again,” said Petrino. “She is just a great competitor. She’s been in a lot of big games before, and she made some great plays for us.

“I’m super proud of the kids. When you’re down 19 with 11 or 12 minutes left, there have to be a lot of players who step up.”

Montana had four players in double figures, with Anderson, Gfeller and Sophia Stiles all scoring a dozen. Keller added 10.

Anderson, who battled UNC preseason All-Big Sky sophomore Alisha Davis all game, added 11 rebounds for her first career double-double.

“Abby is competing her heart out,” said Petrino. “Last year she had a breakout year, so now she is on top of everyone’s scouting report and everybody is keying on her.”

Montana went just 4 of 18 from 3-point range but was 3 for 5 in the fourth quarter. The Lady Griz won despite shooting just 29.2 percent overall. Committing only 10 turnovers helped.

UNC freshman Hannah Simental, who went 5 for 8 from the arc, led both teams with 19 points. Davis added her own double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

And now the teams will prepare to do it all over again, Sunday at 1 p.m.

“Now we have to rest and recover, because this is a good team,” said Petrino. “It will be a tough challenge.”

About Press Release

Recommended for you