Big Sky Conference Basketball Wrap, Thursday 3/6 - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Big Sky Conference Basketball Wrap, Thursday 3/6

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Montana beats Sacramento State 70-55

Jordan Gregory scored 18 points, all on 3-pointers, and Montana clinched a berth in the Big Sky tournament with a 70-55 victory over Sacramento State on Thursday night.

Kareem Jamar and Keron DeShields added 10 points apiece for the Grizzlies (17-11, 12-7), who shot 54.3 percent, including 40 percent from 3-point range on an 8-of-20 effort.

The Grizzlies were down 12-11 early before outscoring the Hornets 32-12 to take a 43-24 lead at the half. Montana took advantage of 11 Sacramento State turnovers in the half, scoring 18 points off the miscues.

The Hornets (13-15, 9-10) got within nine points once in the second half with 9:15 left in the game before the Grizzlies extended the lead back to 16 and cruised to the victory.

Dylan Garrity scored 18 points and Mikh McKinney added 10 for Sacramento State, which saw a seven-game home winning streak come to an end.

 

Lady Griz shoot their way past Hornets

Montana shot better than 51 percent in both halves and got 61 points from Jordan Sullivan, Kellie Cole and Maggie Rickman to post an 87-76 victory over Sacramento State Thursday night at Dahlberg Arena.

The win clinches at least the No. 3 seed for the Lady Griz at next week's seven-team Big Sky Conference tournament, which will be held Thursday through Saturday at Grand Forks, N.D.

Though North Dakota lost 73-53 at Southern Utah Thursday night, UND clinched hosting rights with Sacramento State's loss. SUU, which has won 11 of its last 13, can share the regular-season title with North Dakota with a win at home against Northern Colorado Saturday night.

The tournament field was set Thursday, though seeds won't be sorted out until Saturday's five league games are completed. Idaho State made the tournament with an 86-62 victory at home over Eastern Washington, and Montana State clinched a spot with a 99-85 win over Northern Arizona in Bozeman.

Montana (19-9, 13-6 BSC) had already locked up a spot to the tournament before Thursday's game, but with a 2-2 record in their last four the Lady Griz entered their two-game home stand looking to build some momentum for their trip to Grand Forks. They got plenty against the Hornets (18-10, 10-9 BSC).

Sullivan had her fifth career double-double with 21 points and 15 rebounds, and matched a career high with four blocks, Cole added 21 points, her eighth game this season with 21 or more points, and Rickman finished with a career-high 19 points, as Montana improved to 19-0 at home against Sac State.

Facing a team it lost to in January by a score of 91-81, Montana did not overtly slow the pace down. Instead the Lady Griz made Sac State, the nation's fifth-highest scoring team, work on the defensive end, then hit the shots they needed to make later in the shot clock.

"I thought we controlled the tempo about how we wanted," said UM coach Robin Selvig. "We tried to slow it down on our end and pass it a few times, because with the way they defend they are going to run around and hopefully get tired.

"You hear the fans yelling, Go, go, go, and there are times to attack, but we didn't want to go, go, go. Because then you miss it and they go shoot a fast three, and all of a sudden they have one of those runs. We attacked when the situation called for it."

Montana shot 59.4 percent in the first half, its best-shooting first half of the season, and turned the ball over just five times against Sac State's frenetic defense.

Sullivan, who hadn't reached double figures in scoring for an entire game since Feb. 3, had 13 points by the break. Rickman had 11 at the half, Cole 10. Montana also rediscovered its long-missing stroke from 3-point range, going 7 for 12 in the first half.

But Montana only led 49-40 at the half, mostly because Sac State went 8 for 17 from the arc. The seventh of those triples gave the Hornets a new NCAA record for 3-pointers in a season. They finished the game with 15 makes, which gives them 351 for the season.

"They pressed us some in the first half, which we had no trouble with," Selvig said. "The biggest thing is we shot it real well, which sure makes everything a lot easier.

"We did exactly what we wanted that half. We were patient against their zone, we were making them work, and we were making the shots at the end. That was what we wanted to have happen."

Montana built a 14-point lead six minutes into the second half, but the 3-point shot and some unforced Lady Griz turnovers allowed the Hornets to cut their deficit to two on a pair of occasions and generally hang around until Montana pulled away in the final four minutes.

"They pressed us harder in the second half, and I thought we got a little frenzy going," Selvig said. "They had to pick it up when we got them down 14, but all in all, I thought we took care of it pretty well.

"You're certainly not going to complain about 13 turnovers against these guys."

Torry Hill finished with nine points to pull with 17 of 1,000 for her career, and Alycia Sims came off the bench to add 6 points, 5 rebounds and a season-high 4 assists.

Hallie Gennett scored 17 points off the bench to lead Sac State. Three players scored 14 points, including Fantasia Hilliard, who also added eight assists and three steals.

Montana's .559 shooting percentage was its second-highest of the season, and its nine 3-pointers (on 18 attempts) were the most in a game since Feb. 1. The Lady Griz had a 42-39 rebounding advantage, the seventh time in eight games they've out-boarded their opponent.

Montana will face Northern Arizona Saturday at 2 p.m. in the team's regular-season finale. Hill and Sullivan, the team's lone seniors, will be feted before the game.

 

NAU Tops Bobcats in Flagstaff

Northern Arizona used a 14-0 run midway through the second half to top Montana State 61-48 in Flagstaff on Thursday.

After a hot start – the Bobcats hit seven of their first 11 shots, including four of their first six treys – MSU led 21-12 at the 10 minute mark of the first half. The Cats finished the first half shooting 53% from the floor, 9-for-17, including 5-for-9 from the arc. MSU's shooting turned around in the second half, however, as the team shot just 26% from the floor.

The Bobcats struggled to stop NAU's inside-outside tandem of Max Jacobsen and Kris Yanku. Each scored 16 points for the Lumberjacks. Jacobsen and Gaellan Bewernick each grabbed nine rebounds to lead all players.

Marcus Colbert scored 13 points to lead the Bobcatss, draining four three-pointers. Terrell Brown scored a dozen. NAU held Montana State's post players Flavien Davis (seven points) and Paul Egwuonwu (three) in check throughout. Egwuonwu was 0-6 from the floor.

The loss drops Montana State to 9-10 in Big Sky play, and pushes the team's post-season hopes to the precipice. The winner of Saturday's game between the Cats and Sacramento State (Saturday, 8 pm MT) will have 10 wins, good to go to a tie-breaking scenario for the final spot in the league tournament only if two of Northern Colorado, Eastern Washington and Portland State lose Saturday. UNC visits Southern Utah, EWU hosts Weber State, and the Vikings host Idaho State.

 

Bobcat Women Clinch Tournament Berth with Offensive Explosion

The Montana State women's basketball team had its best offensive game of the season, en route to clinching a Big Sky Conference Tournament berth with a 99-85 win over Northern Arizona, Thursday night in Worthington Arena.

Montana State (14-14, 9-10) entered the game averaging just 64.8 points per game in its last five outings, but put 58 first-half points on the board against Northern Arizona (9-19, 6-13), while shooting 53 percent from the field.

In all, five Bobcat players reached double-figures, including a career-high 17 points from Alexa Dawkins. Also in double-digits were Jasmine Hommes 17, Kayla DeWit 16, Ashley Brumwell 14, and Kalli Durham 12. MSU's post players racked-up 64 points in the victory.

"I felt we were in control the whole game," MSU head coach Tricia Binford said. "We played good team basketball and did a nice job sharing the ball. We had good practices this week and I really feel our energy has picked-up in the past few weeks."

Up by two points at the 11:58 mark of the opening stanza, MSU rattled off a 31-13 run over the next six-minutes to secure an 18-point advantage at intermission.

The Bobcats held its largest lead of the contest at 93-67 with 7-minutes left following a Jasmine Hommes jumper. MSU finished the game shooting 51 percent from the floor, while dishing out a season-high 27 assists.

MSU also won the battle of the boards, out-rebounding the Lumberjacks 46-30. Brumwell led the Bobcats under the glass with eight rebounds, while Jackie Elliott added seven.

Northern Arizona was paced by the Big Sky's leading scorer Amanda Frost, who registered a career-high 38 points connecting on 15-27 from the field.

Montana State will close out the regular-season on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., when it hosts Sacramento State. MSU will also celebrate its lone senor Ashley Brumwell, as well.

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