Lady Griz and Montana State Women Recap - Saturday 1/4 - News, Sports and Weather

Lady Griz and Montana State Women Recap - Saturday 1/4

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Elliott Leads Bobcat Women to Big Sky Road Win

Jan. 4, 2014, FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – For the second consecutive game Montana State junior Jackie Elliott led the Bobcats in scoring. And this time, her effort paid dividends as the Billings native poured in a team-high 23 points to pace MSU to an 80-72 victory over Northern Arizona, Saturday night in the Walkup Skydome.

On Thursday, the Billings Central grad recorded a career-high 25 points in Montana State's Big Sky opening loss at Sacramento State.

"Jackie is really playing at a high level on both ends of the court," said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. "It was a dogfight, and offensively we put together two solid halves."

The first half featured nine ties and eight lead changes. Montana State (6-5, 1-1) got back-to-back baskets by sophomore Jasmine Hommes in the final minute to enter intermission with a 30-27 advantage.

In the second stanza, the Bobcats rattled off a 10-0 run midway through the stanza to take a 54-42 lead following a Kalli Durham free throw with eight-minutes, 46-seconds remaining. Northern Arizona (3-8, 0-2) whittled the margin to 74-70 with 1:24 left, but MSU closed out the game going four-of-six from the line to secure the win.

"Defensively, we must take the next step in being able to defend and keep teams off the foul line and boards," Binford said. "I thought Margreet (Barhoum) gave us a strong lift, and Kalli hit some big shots. Our posts were really solid, as well."

Elliott finished the contest connecting on seven-of-12 from the floor. She also added eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Also in double-digits for the Bobcats were Hommes and Durham with 17 points, apiece. Barhoum finished with six points in 18 minutes of action.

For the game, the Bobcats shot 41 percent from the field, while holding NAU to 34 percent and forcing 22 Lumberjack turnovers.

Sophomore Alexa Dawkins led MSU under the boards with a career-high nine rebounds, while adding five points, three assists and two blocks. Montana State point guard Ausha Cole led all players with six assists.

"We're anxious to get back home in front of our fans, Binford said. "But, we need to also get back to a blue-collar mentality on the defensive end."

Northern Arizona was led by Amanda Frost with a game-high 27 points.

The Bobcats will host Portland State on Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Worthington Arena.


Lady Griz Fall on the Road to 10-1 Sacramento State

Sacramento State got the tempo it wanted in Saturday afternoon's 91-81 victory over Montana at Sacramento, Calif., and maybe more important got a statement win over the defending Big Sky Conference champions that further stamps the once-beaten Hornets as the league's top team.

Sacramento State (10-1, 2-0 BSC) hit 15 3-pointers and held the Lady Griz (7-4, 1-1 BSC) to a pair of baskets over an 11-minute stretch of the second half to pull away for its eighth-straight win and remain one of just two teams -- along with North Dakota (8-4, 3-0 BSC) -- without a league loss.

Montana trailed 55-52 at the half and was still matching Sac State offensively through the first six minutes of the second half until UM's lengthy dry spell allowed the Hornets to pull away.

"The difference was we had a stretch in the second half where we didn't get shots," UM coach Robin Selvig said. "We'd been passing, catching and shooting it well before that."

Montana also had nine of its 20 turnovers in the final 11 minutes as Sac State's tempo wore down the Lady Griz, who were getting their first shot at facing a team that only Oregon State has managed to defeat this season.

"The key to beating these guys is 40 minutes of mental toughness," Selvig said. "We tried to keep kids fresh, but we did have people get tired, and fatigue causes those types of plays that lead to turnovers.

"You can't mimic this type of game in practice. They are tough to guard and a good basketball team."

Under first-year coach Bunky Harkleroad, the Hornets play a high-risk, high-reward style that is unique in the staid Big Sky Conference, and both sides of the risk-reward equation were on display in a high-scoring first half that ended with the Hornets leading 55-52.

Sac State, which entered the game leading the nation at 14.4 3-pointers per game, hit 10 first-half threes, but after five turnovers in the opening four minutes Montana settled down and got easy looks at the other end nearly every time the Lady Griz broke the Hornets' relentless full-court press.

Montana opened the game 12 for 15 and finished the half shooting 57.5 percent, but even that wasn't enough to outscore the Hornets, who at one point knocked down three 3-pointers in a span of 50 seconds.

"We were hot to start with. If you handle their pressure, you're going to get good shots, and we were making all of them," Selvig said. "But they shot it really well from 3-point range."

The most frustrating thing for Montana Saturday: The Lady Griz sharpened up their defense in the second half, but their limited offense didn't allow them to capitalize. Sacramento State outscored Montana 36-29 in the second half.

The Lady Griz grabbed a pair of one-point leads early in the second half, but after senior Jordan Sullivan hit a 3-pointer at the 14:22 mark to bring Montana within one at 69-68, they started missing shots and turning it over.

At the other end, Sac State slowly built its lead and went up 85-74 with just over four minutes to play on a lay-up by Alle Moreno. The lead remained at nine or above the rest of the game.

"We did a better job defensively in the second half, but we quit scoring," Selvig said. "We shoot 57 percent in the first half, and if we shoot 50 percent in the second half, we probably get them."

Despite scoring 81 points, Montana, which shot 51.5 percent for the game, had just two players reach double figures in scoring.

Sullivan scored a career-high 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting and added 10 rebounds for her third career double-double. Redshirt junior Kellie Cole, who scored a career-high 25 points in Thursday's 87-67 victory at Northern Arizona, scored 21.

Junior Maggie Rickman grabbed nine rebounds and dished out five assists, both career highs, and freshman Alycia Sims scored eight points and blocked two shots off the bench.

It wasn't just the Hornets' scoring from the 3-point line that hurt Montana. Sac State's spread offense allows for frequent drives to the basket, and when they weren't kicking it out for threes, they were drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line.

Sac State went 16 for 21 from the line while Montana was going 4 for 9.

"They got to the foul line too much, but they create that off the dribble," Selvig said.

Hallie Gennett went 5 for 10 from 3-point range to lead Sacramento State with 17 points.

Next week Montana will host a pair of teams that improved to 2-1 in Big Sky play with home wins Saturday afternoon.

The Lady Griz will host Eastern Washington (6-6, 2-1 BSC), a 67-55 winner over Idaho State, on Thursday and Portland State (4-8, 2-1 BSC), a 66-60 winner over Weber State, next Saturday.


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