Big Sky Conference Basketball Wrap, Saturday 2/15 - News, Sports and Weather

Big Sky Conference Basketball Wrap, Saturday 2/15

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Below are recaps from all four games on Saturday.


The University of MontanaGrizzlies had four players score in double figures, but it wasn't enough as they were defeated 74-69 in a Big Sky Conference contest Saturday afternoon by the University of North Dakota's in UND's Betty Engelstad Center.

North Dakota (8-6 BSC/11-13overall) capitalized on 12 steals and forced 17 Montana (7-7/12-11) turnovers,as UND out-scored UM 21-8 on points off turnovers.

The Grizzlies did mount second-half comeback effort.  Montana trailed by 14 points (71-57) with4:11 play after North Dakota forward Alonzo Traylor had scored on alay-up.  Montana whittled the UND lead down to four points at 73-69 on a pair of free throws by forward Mike Weisner with 11 seconds to play, but theGriz never got another possession after that.

Montana did lead twice in the opening half, but trailed 38-33 at halftime, and could never retake the lead in the final 20 minutes. 

The closest Montana could get in the second half was the four-point spread they had after Weisner had made those two charity shots with just 11 seconds left.  UND's largest lead was that 14-point bulge it had Traylor's lay-up at the 4:11 mark.

The Grizzlies led just twice,and their second one came with 4:59 remaining until intermission on a lay-up by guard Keron DeShields, which gave UM a 29-27 edge.  However, forward JaronNash scored on a conventional three-point play on North Dakota's next possession, giving his team a 30-29 lead, and UND led the rest of the contest.

Senior guard/forward KareemJamar led the Grizzlies in scoring with 18 points, and also had 6 rebounds, but had  an uncharacteristic 6 turnovers.  True freshman guard MarionDunn scored a career-high 17 points, going 5-of-6 from the floor and 7-of-7from the line, and he also led UM with 7 rebounds.

UM guard Jordan Gregory added16 points, making 5-of-10 shots from the floor and all four of his free throw attempts, but he also had 5 turnovers.  Forward Mike Weisner continued his solid play, scoring 12 on 4-of-6 shooting from the field, and was 2-of-2 from the line, and he has now scored 49 points in UM's last four games. DeShields was held to a season-low 4 points.

Jamar's 18 points at UND give him 1,558 in his career, which moves him up to 23rd in Big Sky history.  He remains sixth on Montana's career scoring list.

Nash, who is a 6-8 senior transfer from Texas Tech, scored a game-high 19 points, made 9-of-13 shots from the field.  UND's versatile senior guard/forward Troy Huff added 18points, a team-high 6 rebounds, and 4 steals.

The Grizzlies are back home for their next four league games in a row, beginning with league-favorite and first-place Weber State next Thursday, Feb. 20.  UM then hosts Idaho State on Friday, Feb. 22.  Both games next week start at 7:05 p.m. in UM'sDahlberg Arena.



Northern Colorado rode scorching-hot shooting in the second half to an 83-73 win over Montana State in Greeley on Saturday.

The Bobcats led for much of the first half and stayed close for all but the last 30 seconds of the second, but UNC hit 16 of its 20 second-half shots, including five-for-six from behind the arc, to hold MSU at bay. In fact,the Bears missed nearly as many free throws (three, on 10-for-13 shooting)after the break as field goals.

"When you allow the other team to shoot 80% (in the second half)you're not going to win," said Bobcat coach Brad Huse. "I'm proud of my guys for how hard they played, how they hung in there, and how they rallied around each other.  We just needed a few stop sin the second half, and we couldn't get them."

The loss obscures a tremendous Montana State effort on the back end of a difficult road trip. The Cats shot 50% in the first half and 54% in the second, but UNC's explosive and athletic forward Derrick Barden was too much for the Bobcats on the glass. The senior grabbed 12 rebounds, five on the offensive end, and scored 14 points. His effort paced Northern Colorado to a33-to-19 advantage on the glass.

Flavien Davis led MSU with 17 points, and was one of five Bobcats in double-figures in scoring. Marcus Colbert had 14 points, Stephan Holm 11,Antonio Biglow 13, and Colorado native Terrell Brown 11. Colbert added five assists for the Bobcats, Biglow four.

The win was UNC's 13th at home this year without a loss, a fact not lost on Huse. "This is a difficult place to play," he said."They have a great environment and the fans are right on top of you, it's very compact. It's very impressive what they've done in terms of winning games here this year."

Montana State falls to 7-7 in the Big Sky and remains in a cluster of teams battling for the conference tournament. The Cats host Idaho State inWorthington Arena on Thursday



Maggie Rickman wasn't Montana's only clutch playerSaturday, but her late 3-pointer, just the fifth of her career, was the one fans will remember on an afternoon dedicated to memories.

Rickman's three was at the heart of a 10-1 run over the final 3:30 that helped Montana erase a 48-42 deficit and post a 52-49 victory over Big Sky Conference leader North Dakota Saturday afternoon at DahlbergArena in front of a season-high crowd of 3,456.

With the family of the late Julie Deming in attendance and nearly three dozen former Montana players -- many of them Deming'steammates -- exhorting them on, the Lady Ritz (16-7, 10-4 BSC) moved into a three-way tie atop the Big Sky in the loss column with both North Dakota (16-8,11-4 BSC) and Southern Utah (16-7, 10-4 BSC) with just three weeks of regular-season games left to be played.

"Maggie was huge down the stretch, but we had a lot of heroes today," UM coach Robin Selvig said. "Obviously if you're going to win that one, people are going to need to step up and make some plays."

With the home fans providing the energy after a moving pregame tribute to Deming, who played for the Lady Ritz from 1999-2004 and was killed in a car accident last April, Montana was perhaps too amped up early on.

North Dakota's Madi Buck drilled a pair of 3-pointers in the opening 90 seconds, Montana missed its first eight shots, and UND led 10-0at the first media timeout.

Montana shot just 23 percent in the first half and scored a season-low 16 points, but after North Dakota's early outburst, the Lady Grizz held UND in check the rest of the half and trailed 25-16 at the break.

"We struggled in the first half, no question about it.North Dakota did a nice job of making things tough on us," UM coach RobinSelvig said.

"We were fortunate to only be down nine, but we did a nice job defensively after they scored 10 in the first three or four minutes."

As she's made a habit of doing, Torry Hill sparkedMontana early in the second half. She missed her only two 3-point attempts of the first half and finished 2 for 10 from the arc for the game, but the two she did hit came in the opening minute of the second half, and they got Montana going.

At least as much as either team could get going in a battle of two of the Big Sky's top defensive teams.

"Each possession was a struggle for both teams today,"Selvig said. "Neither team was able to score quickly."

Montana took its first lead of the day when Hill grabbed a long defensive rebound and beat everyone down the court for what were the only fast-break points of the game to make it 32-31 with 12:33 left.

The Lady Ritz built their lead to 36-31 on baskets byKellie Cole and Alycia Sims, and at that point most visiting teams would have been finished, but North Dakota punched back and showed why it's atop the BigSky standings.

North Dakota held Montana to a single field goal over the next six minutes and built its own lead to six points on three occasions, the final coming when Siri Burck hit a pair of free throws with 3:37 left that made it 48-42.

That's when Rickman, who had scored just before Burck'sfree throws on a confident baby hook in the lane, put her stamp on the game.She hit a mid-range jumper to make it 48-44, and after a UND turnover hit the shot everyone will remember: a 3-pointer from the left wing that made it 48-47.

After a UND miss, Cole hit a pair of free throws with1:41 left that put Montana back ahead 49-48, a lead that was erased when NorthDakota's Emily Evers, after grabbing an offensive rebound, hit one of two free throws with 1:15 to play.

If Rickman's three was electric, Carly Selvig's turnaround jumper with 49 seconds left was just cold-blooded.

With the game tied 49-49 and the shot clock running down,Selvig got the ball on the left wing, 12 feet away and her back to the basket.Defending her: someone from the team that ranks sixth nationally in blocked shots.

No worries. Selvig, who was 2 for 6 on the day with four points, turned, fired, and her swish didn't even touch rim. 51-49.

"Late in games she'll manage to do that," Selvig said."She'll miss everything in the first half and not look that good shooting it.The clock was starting to run down, and she squared and knocked that thing down."

On the other end, Selvig blocked a jumper in the paint byBuck. Leah Szabla was there for the offensive rebound, and her attempt to tie it was blocked by Jordan Sullivan, who grabbed the rebound and got it quickly to Hill, one of the team's top free throw shooters, who was fouled with 22seconds remaining.

Hill hit her first attempt and missed the second, making it 52-49 and giving North Dakota, still down just one possession, new life.

UND squandered the opportunity with a turnover whenSzabla drove the baseline and fired a bounce pass to the opposite corner off a set play, except no shooters had relocated to receive the pass, giving Montana the ball with 12 seconds left.

Cole was fouled on the inbounds, and another one ofMontana's top free throw shooters was unable to ice the game. Cole missed the front end of a one-and-one to give North Dakota one more chance.

It turned out to be harmless and the type of broken-down set that will keep second-year UND coach Travis Brewster awake for most of the team's 15-hour bus trip back to Grand Forks.

The last player North Dakota would have drawn up to shoot the potential game-tying three with two seconds left was the one who was forced to take it when everything else fell apart, the 6-foot-5 Evers.

Her shot from the top of the key came up four feet short of hitting rim, and Montana had its 15th straight win over a Big Sky Conference opponent at Dahlberg Arena.

"And we had our two best free throw shooters up there,too," Selvig said of Hill's and Cole's misses. "Those kids have made a lot of clutch free throws, so I won't hold it against them."

Cole finished with 13 points, Rickman with 11. Nine of those came in the second half, seven came in the final 4:09.

Montana's biggest edge in the game -- other than playing in front of an impassioned home crowd -- was on the boards, which was the most surprising storyline of the game.

North Dakota ranks seventh nationally in rebounding margin and had been out-boarding its Big Sky opponents by nearly 13 per game.That included a 49-31 advantage in its 62-57 win over the Lady Ritz last month in Grand Forks.

On Saturday Montana finished with a slim 38-37 edge, but15 of those came on the offensive end. The Lady Ritz turned those into 14second-chance points, and those extra possessions were a huge factor on day when Montana shot 32.3 percent.

Also helping overcome its shooting was Montana's eight turnovers, its third-lowest total of the season and nine fewer than the LadyGriz had in the teams' first meeting. The offensive rebounds and lack of turnovers gave Montana 17 more shots attempts than North Dakota.

"We won the battle of the boards, and that's the most impressive stat they have," Selvig said. "And we only had eight turnovers.That's pretty good, because they get after you defensively."

Montana did its own work on the defensive end as well. It was the first time North Dakota has been held to fewer than 62 points in its last 11 games, and UND, which averages more than 27 free throw attempts and took 31 in the teams' first meeting, got to the line just 16 times, making 12.

Mia Loyd, who had a 20-point, 12-rebound double-double against Montana in Grand Forks, had 13 points and nine rebounds. Buck, her team's leading scorer at 16.4 per game, added 10 points and seven boards, but she scored only two points over the game's final 27 minutes.

Should North Dakota fail to win the regular-season championship, its road trip to Montana is one it will look back on with regret.UND led at Montana State by 11 early in the second half Thursday and lost, and on Saturday gave up an eight-point, second-half lead.

And so the Big Sky Conference championship and the right to host the league tournament will come down to the final three weeks.

If Montana wants to remain in contention, the Lady Griz will have to do it on the road, where they are 2-4 so far during league games.Montana will play at Weber State and Idaho State next week, then follow that trip with visits to Southern Utah and Montana State.



NorthernColorado out-rebounded Montana State by 22 boards and UNC's Stephanie Lee was almost unstoppable scoring a game-high 36 points as the Bears posted a 65-59win over the Bobcats, Saturday afternoon in Worthington Arena.

NorthernColorado (13-11, 7-8) received 14 points from Lee in the opening period as the6-1 junior connected on seven-of-12 from the field, mostly lay ups. MontanaState (12-11, 7-7) sophomore Kayla DeWit countered with 12 points on five-of-six shooting, but the Bears entered intermission with a 31-23 cushion.

"We struggled to control the tempo," MSU head coach Tricia Binford said. "We didn't get the hustle plays and we didn't get stops. Lee is a phenomenal player and we didn't have an answer for her."

The Bears maintained a double-digit lead throughout the second stanza, before the Bobcats picked-up its full court pressure defense and chipped a 14-point UNC lead down to five with 1:01 left following a Jasmine Hommes free throw. During the 11-2run MSU held Northern Colorado without a field-goal for the rest of the game.UNC knocked down a pair of free throws to secure the win in the final minute.

"We lost our toughness," Binford said. "We have to have some accountability to get the job done. We knew they would be physical, but we just didn't respond. It's mindset we didn't have this afternoon."

DeWitfinished with a career-high 16 points to lead the Bobcats. Also in double-figures were Kalli Durham 13, and Hommes 11. Ashley Brumwell and JackieElliott paced MSU under the glass with eight and six rebounds, respectively.Junior point-guard Ausha Cole finished with nine assists and a game-high five steals.

The Bobcats forced 24 UNC turnovers, while committing just eight miscues. MSU failed to turn the Bears' errors into points, shooting just 34 percent from the field,while UNC hit at a 52 percent clip.

MontanaState will travel to Idaho State on Thursday.


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