Lady Griz Women's Basketball Falls to Lehigh in Christmas City C - News, Sports and Weather

Lady Griz Women's Basketball Falls to Lehigh in Christmas City Classic

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A rough second quarter put the Montana women’s basketball team in a 20-point halftime hole, and the Lady Griz never recovered as they opened the Christmas City Classic with an 80-53 loss at Lehigh Saturday afternoon at Bethlehem, Pa.

Montana (3-2) trailed 17-14 after the first quarter, then hit just 3 of 17 shots in the second to fall behind 44-24 at the half. Lehigh (6-0), which went 9 for 17 in the second quarter, outscored Montana in the period 27-10.

The Lady Griz scored the first seven points of the second half to cut their deficit to 13, but the Mountain Hawks responded with seven straight of their own to push the lead back to 20. Lehigh led the final 31 minutes of the game.

“Lehigh is a really good team right now, a lot better than us. They are experienced, and they know what they’re doing,” said UM coach Robin Selvig, who faced a similar veteran team last Thanksgiving at Cancun in Princeton. “I told their coach I love their team. They play really good basketball.”

Lexi Martins, Lehigh’s 6-foot forward, does not stand out in warmups, but she does once the game tips off. She led both teams with 18 points and 16 rebounds, her sixth double-double in six games this season.

Kerry Kinek had her own double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Elizabeth Jordan came off the bench to drain five 3-pointers and finish with 15 points. All three players are upperclassmen.

“They’re really good. They’ve got the stud, but they’re balanced too,” said Selvig. “We had a hard time guarding them. They’ve got shooters and handlers, and they are experienced. We aren’t good enough defensively to contain a team like that right now.”

All five of Montana’s starters scored early on to give the Lady Griz a 14-13 lead, but Kinek hit a free throw to tie it, and Hailey Pasco knocked down a 3-pointer to give Lehigh a 17-14 lead after one.

Hannah Doran hit a 3-pointer early in the second quarter and another in the final minute, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with Martins, much less the Mountain Hawks. Martins, who isn’t overpowering, just efficient, matched Montana in scoring for the quarter, 10-10, and outrebounded the Lady Griz 8-7.

“That girl is a horse,” said Selvig. “We had nobody who could come close to matching up with her.”

After Doran’s first triple of the quarter made it 20-17, Lehigh scored seven straight points to build its first 10-point lead of the game. A Rachel Staudacher basket made it 27-19, then back-to-back threes by Jordan and Kinek started a 14-2 run that pushed the lead to 41-21.

“We had a tough stretch in the second quarter when it felt like we missed 10 or 11 shots in a row,” said Selvig. “We couldn’t stop them, so we would have had to score to keep up with them. We had a lot of good looks, but that second quarter was a nightmare.”

Baskets by Kayleigh Valley and Alycia Sims, and a 3-pointer by McCalle Feller cut Lehigh’s third-quarter lead to 44-31, and Montana held the Mountain Hawks without a field goal until the 4:28 mark, but it was too little, too late.

Lehigh led 58-40 after three quarters and scored the first eight points of the fourth to blow the game open.

Feller, who went 5 for 17, led Montana with 13 points, but she, like everyone on the team, had a rough shooting day. The Lady Griz shot 25.7 percent in the first half and finished at 30.8 for the game. Lehigh shot 44.3 percent.

Valley added 11 points, Sims grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds, her fourth double-digit effort of the season. Behind Martins and Kinek, Lehigh finished with a 49-36 rebounding advantage.

“There were some bright spots,” said Selvig. “I thought we got good shots for the most part, and we only had 11 turnovers. I don’t know that we could have gotten much better shots than we did.

“We’re still learning, and you get better by playing good people. This team was better than I thought it was going to be, so it ended up being a long night, but we can be better because of this game.”

Montana will face Drexel (2-2) Sunday at 10 a.m. (MT). The Dragons lost 67-55 to Villanova (3-1) in Saturday’s early game.

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