Big Sky Basketball Wrap from Thursday, 2/11 - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Big Sky Basketball Wrap from Thursday, 2/11

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Griz Men:

Martin Breunig had 20 points, seven rebounds and four blocks to lead Montana to an 86-53 win over Southern Utah on Thursday night.
    
Breunig hit 7 of 10 shots, was 6 of 9 from the foul line and had four steals for the Grizzlies (15-8, 10-2 Big Sky). Bobby Moorehead added 13, Jack Lopez 11 and Michael Oguine 10.
    
Montana hit 8 of 10 3-pointers in the first half and 15 of 20 overall to open a 43-23 lead. The Grizzlies ended up 12 of 17 behind the arc, shot 62 percent overall for the game and made 16 of 20 free throws.
    
John Marshall had nine points to lead Southern Utah (4-18, 2-10), which has lost seven straight. The Thunderbirds were 4 of 20 from 3-point range and shot 37 percent overall.
    
Breunig had six straight points as the Grizzlies opened an 11-0 lead and back-to-back 3s from Brandon Gfeller made it 17-5 and Montana kept rolling.

MSU Men:

Tyler Hall scored 29 points on 10-for-14 shooting_8 for 11 from 3_to lead Montana State to a 101-58 pummeling of Northern Arizona on Thursday night.
    
The Bobcats hit a school record 25 3s and were just three shy of the all-time Division I mark set by Troy in 1994 against George Mason.
    
Montana State finished 25 for 43 from 3-point range (58.3 percent). Montana State (11-13, 6-6 Big Sky) led 56-18 at halftime. Hall hit three-straight 3s to give Montana State a 29-8 lead with 8:19 left before halftime.
    
The Lumberjacks shot 4 for 23 in the first half (17.4 percent) and missed all eight 3-point attempts.
    
Meanwhile, the Bobcats shot 63.3 percent (19 for 30) from the field and were 15 for 23 from 3 in the first half.
    
Kris Yanku and Torry Johnson each scored 21 for Northern Arizona (4-19, 2-10).
    
Montana State outrebounded the Lumberjacks 45-21.

Lady Griz

No McCalle Feller was no problem for Montana Thursday night, as the Lady Griz shot a season-best 54.1 percent on their way to a convincing 81-50 victory over Southern Utah at Centrum Arena in Cedar City, Utah.

Kayleigh Valley, who became the 32nd player in program history to reach 1,000 career points when she converted a fast-break layup late in the fourth quarter, scored 30 points to lead four players in double figures, and Montana won its third straight to quietly work its way to within a game of a top-four spot in the Big Sky Conference standings.

There was plenty of uncertainty entering the game. Feller, the team’s second-leading scorer, was on the bench with her injured ankle but not in uniform. The Thunderbirds were winless in league but had lost seven of their Big Sky games by 12 points or fewer. And Montana had trouble putting Southern Utah away last month in Missoula, finally pulling out a 66-60 victory.

Coach Robin Selvig needn’t have worried.

After falling behind 10-9 in the opening five minutes, Montana (14-9, 7-5 BSC) scored the final 17 points of the period to go up 26-10 after one and built a 42-24 halftime lead. The outcome was never in doubt in the second half.

“It was important that we got off to a good start defensively tonight. Even though they haven’t been winning, they haven’t been getting blown out either. If they hang around, you’re in for a fight,” said Selvig. “We really took the wind out of their sails early.”

Valley was fantastic, with 30 points on 12-of-17 shooting, nine rebounds, three assists and a pair of blocks. And even without Feller, she had all the support she needed.

Big Sky Conference Player of the Week Alycia Sims had 14 points on 7-of-11 shooting, Hannah Doran, making her second career start in place of Feller, had 15 points and seven rebounds, and Sierra Anderson came off the bench to score 11.

Anderson’s five field goals matched the number she had in Montana’s previous nine games.

“Kayleigh was great again. We did a nice job getting her the ball. And Alycia shot the ball well again,” said Selvig. “It was nice to see Sierra come in and make some shots. She gave us a good spark tonight.”

Southern Utah hit three of its first six shots, and Tiarra McDonald’s 3-pointer midway through the first quarter put the Thunderbirds up 10-9. It was one of the few highlights for SUU (2-20, 0-12 BSC).

Valley converted a three-point play on Montana’s next possession to give the Lady Griz a 12-10 lead, and her 3-pointer the next time down the floor made it 15-10. Back-to-back jumpers by Sims made it 19-10, and the rout was on.

Southern Utah missed its final six shots of the first quarter and first two of the second. By that time the Lady Griz, who shot 53.1 percent in the first half, led by 18 points, 30-12.

“We handled their pressure once we got a lead. That’s how you shoot 54 percent, by getting layups breaking pressure,” said Selvig. “We didn’t shoot it well from three, but we got a lot of bunnies, and that’s how you get that kind of percentage.”

Montana had 23 assists -- all eight players who saw the floor had at least two -- and just 11 turnovers. It was the third straight game the Lady Griz have recorded 22 or more assists.

Southern Utah, which turned the ball over 18 times, shot 30.4 percent the first half, 27.6 percent the second, to finish at 28.8 for the game, the fourth time this season Montana has held an opponent below 30 percent.

Jamie Smith led the Thunderbirds, who have not defeated an NCAA-recognized opponent since mid-December, with 12 points. Jessica Richardson, the team’s leading scorer, was limited to seven points on 1-of-6 shooting.

“We were trying to keep it from Richardson, and we did that. She didn’t get many looks,” said Selvig, whose team won just its second game this season on an opponent’s home court.

“It was obviously a good game for us, one of those that went really well. It’s nice to have those once in a while when you’re not sweating at the end.”

The win, coupled with Weber State’s 87-64 loss at Sacramento State Thursday night, brings Montana within one in the loss column of a top-four position in the Big Sky standings. The top four seeds earn a bye to the quarterfinal round at next month’s tournament in Reno.

The road will likely get tougher on Saturday when Montana faces Northern Arizona (6-17, 2-10 BSC) in Flagstaff at 5:30 p.m. The Lumberjacks stuck with league-leading Montana State for most of their game Thursday night before falling 83-72.

In other league games Thursday, Idaho State won 64-42 at Portland State, North Dakota, which won its seventh straight game, knocked Eastern Washington out of a first-place tie with MSU with a 72-69 win in Grand Forks, and Northern Colorado beat Idaho 70-68 in overtime in Greeley.

MSU Women:

Montana State cashed in on a pair of three-pointers and went nine-of-ten from the free throw line in the final three-minutes to post an 83-72 win over Northern Arizona, Thursday night in the Walkup Skydome.

MSU’s 13-3 final run broke open a game which featured eight ties and five lead changes. The win, coupled with North Dakota’s 72-69 victory over Eastern Washington, puts the Bobcats in sole possession of the top spot in the Big Sky Conference.

“It was a tough game to get into any kind of a flow,” said MSU Head Coach Tricia Binford. “It was hard to establish a tempo, but I’m proud of the kids and their resiliency. Everyone stepped-up and just made plays to finish the game against a really tough opponent.”

Montana State (18-5, 11-1) took a 34-29 advantage into intermission. Junior Riley Nordgaard paced the Bobcats in the first two quarters posting ten points and eight rebounds.

“Riley was all over the glass,” Binford said.

Northern Arizona (6-17, 2-10) enjoyed a 14-4 run to open the third quarter, taking a 45-40 lead at the 4:09 mark on a layup via Taylor Leyva. The Bobcats closed out the stanza on an 11-5 run, giving MSU a one-point cushion heading into the final stanza.

“Lindsay (Stockton) really got us going heading into the fourth quarter,” Binford said. “We got into some foul trouble and Annika (Lai) and Haley (Blodgett) came in and gave us good minutes. Margreet (Barhoum) hit a big three and Jasmine (Hommes) and Peyton (Ferris) really took over when we needed it the most. It was just a great team effort.”

Hommes and Stockton each finished with a team-high 19 points. Hommes went eight-of-14 from the field and added seven rebounds. Stockton went three-of-four from 3-point range and dished out a game-high seven assists, as well.

Nordgaard recorded her second double-double in the last three games finishing with 15 points and ten rebounds. Ferris also hit double-digits with 17 points. Sophomore guard Hannah Caudill came off the bench to chip in seven points and five assists.

For the game, Montana State shot 53 percent from the field and 56 percent from three-point range, connecting on nine-of-16 attempts. MSU held a slight 34-31 advantage under the boards.

Northern Arizona was paced by freshman Alyssa Rader with 20 points and seven rebounds.

Montana State will play at Southern Utah on Saturday night in Cedar City.

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