Big Sky Conference Basketball Wrap From Saturday, 2/27 - News, Sports and Weather

Big Sky Conference Basketball Wrap From Saturday, 2/27

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Montana Women's Recap:

It was a pair of juniors who had big games on Senior Day, and it sent Hannah Doran, McCalle Feller and Haley Vining out as winners in their final game at Dahlberg Arena.

Kayleigh Valley scored a career-high 31 points, and Alycia Sims had her sixth double-double in the last nine games with 21 points and a career-high 17 rebounds to lead Montana to a hard-fought 84-75 victory over Weber State Saturday afternoon.

The win was the seventh in a row for Montana (18-9, 11-5 BSC), a streak that has allowed the Lady Griz to move into a tie for fourth place in the Big Sky Conference standings with North Dakota (15-12, 11-5 BSC) with one week of regular-season games remaining.

The Fighting Hawks, who have won 10 of their last 11, matched Montana’s win Saturday with an 86-79 victory at Sacramento State.

In a delightful turn of scheduling luck, Montana will face North Dakota, which won at Missoula last month 61-59, on Wednesday night in Grand Forks.

A victory by Montana wouldn’t clinch anything, but it would put the Lady Griz one step closer to earning a first-round bye at next month’s Big Sky tournament. A second loss to North Dakota would lock Montana into having to play a first-round game on the opening day of the tournament.

But that’s next week and beyond. For now, a celebration of a perfect 7-0 month of February, capped off by Saturday’s entertaining victory over the Wildcats.

It wasn’t all Valley and Sims in win No. 7. The seniors combined for 28 points, with both Doran and Vining hitting big shots in the fourth quarter, in a game Montana never gained separation from Weber State as much as the Wildcats, who shot 47.6 percent, just ran out of time and comeback opportunities.

“It was a pretty good ball game and a fun one for the fans with all the scoring,” said coach Robin Selvig. “We couldn’t stop them, and they couldn’t stop us.

“It’s not exactly how you want it to go. Our pride on defense got hurt a little today, but you have to give them credit. They are a tough matchup for us, because they basically have five guards on the floor. They lack size, but they have good players. A lot of kids who can shoot the three and get to the hole.”

In a game when both teams played to their strengths, Montana’s -- size, ball security, interior scoring -- won out in the end.

The Wildcats employed a five-out motion with plenty of dribble-drives that either finished at the rim or resulted in kick-outs to open 3-point shooters. Even undersized, Weber State scored 32 points in the paint but also took nearly half of its shots (30 of 63) from the arc.

Montana’s answer: With WSU defending aggressively on the perimeter and not helping on the interior as much as most of Montana’s recent opponents, it allowed Valley and Sims to get to work. Valley hit 11 of her 20 shots, Sims went 6 for 10. They combined to go 18 for 19 from the line.

The Lady Griz shot a season-best 56.6 percent overall, scored 25 of their 30 field goals in the paint and turned the ball over just 13 times against a team forcing nearly 25 per game in league.

“We did what we needed to do in terms of our strengths against theirs, which was rebound and get the ball inside,” said Selvig, whose team had a 37-21 advantage on the boards. “Our perimeter kids took care of the ball and got it to Alycia and Kayleigh around the basket.

“That’s the matchup advantage you have, and the girls did a good job of playing our strengths against their weaknesses. We did that well.”

Because of the Big Sky’s unbalanced schedule, Saturday was the first meeting of the season between Montana and Weber State, and the first chance to see a team that was picked 10th in the preseason coaches’ poll but has been winning impressively and with regularity since the start of the season.

Not only are the Wildcats surprisingly improved, they just played their 10th straight game without senior guard Regina Okoye, who is likely out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. She was leading the team in both scoring (16.9/g) and rebounding (6.7/g) at the time of her injury.

And Weber State still almost picked up its first win at Dahlberg Arena since 2005-06, as Brittney Dunbar scored 22 points to lead four players in double figures. The Wildcats’ shooting percentage was the second-highest of the season allowed by Montana.

“That’s a good basketball team, and they had a heck of a nice game offensively,” said Selvig. “We had a hard time guarding them.”

It took less than a minute to see Montana was going to have its hands full defensively. On the first possession of the game, Dunbar blew past her on-ball defender and got cleanly to the rim before any help could arrive. Uncontested layup, 2-0 lead.

Weber State shot 54.8 percent in the first half, which had 11 lead changes, and only turned the ball over six times. Montana led 39-38 at the break.

“They got confidence early on. When you’re scoring, you feel good about yourself,” said Selvig. “That’s why I always say, even if we aren’t making baskets, let’s make it tough for the other team.”

That didn’t happen until the start of the third quarter, and even then it was short-lived. Montana switched to zone defense, and Weber State missed its first eight shots of the second half before Kallie Quinn broke the drought with a 3-pointer at the 4:13 mark.

“That got them out of sync a little bit. Basically I told the team at halftime that it can’t get any worse than our (first-half) man (defense),” said Selvig. “The zone was good for us, but then they adjusted and banged a couple of threes.”

And it was close the rest of the way. Montana, which led 58-53 after three quarters, never trailed in the second half, but the Lady Griz never had a comfortable lead either. Up seven, then just two. Up eight, then just two. And repeat.

“It ended up being a shootout,” said Selvig. “Every time we almost got away from them, they answered.”

Weber State made what would be its final push when the Wildcats closed to within two, 72-70, with 3:32 left on Emily Drake’s 3-pointer. It would be WSU’s final basket until the closing seconds.

Valley hit a pair of baskets in the paint to make it 76-70, and Sims scored inside with 1:19 left to up the lead to 78-70. Vining’s spinning layup with 39 seconds left made it 80-72 and ended the suspense.

Doran, who hit a big 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter and forced a Weber State turnover in the final minute, scored 12 points. It was the fourth time in five games she has scored 11 or more.

Vining finished with seven points and five assists, and Feller scored nine points before fouling out late. Mekayla Isaak, who came off the bench as Doran started her final home game, had five assists and four points.

And so it will come down the final week of the regular season. Montana State (20-6, 13-2 BSC), Eastern Washington (19-9, 13-3 BSC) and Idaho (20-8, 12-4 BSC) have clinched byes at the tournament. The No. 4 spot remains up in the air.

Montana will play North Dakota on Wednesday at 6 p.m., then take on eighth-place Northern Colorado (12-14, 7-9 BSC) on Friday at 7 p.m. in Greeley.

The Lady Griz will open the Big Sky tournament with either a first-round game in Reno on Monday, March 7, or a quarterfinal game on Wednesday, March 9. Next week will tell us which it is.

Montana Sports Information

Montana Men's Recap:

Cold shooting dooms Griz at Weber State

The Montana Grizzlies were held back by a cold shooting night, leading to a missed opportunity to beat Weber State for the first time on their home court in a regular season game since 2004, as the Wildcats held on to defeat the Griz 60-54.

The loss bumps the Griz down the Big Sky table into second place, putting them at 13-3 in the Big Sky and 18-9 overall. Weber State meanwhile, picks up their thirteenth-straight home win this season, and lays claim to first place in the Bit Sky Conference at 14-2 in league play, and 22-7 overall. The win was also the 1,0000th for Wildcats as a D-I school.

Montana had its worst three-point shooting display of the season, making only two shots on 11 attempts. From the field, UM was 22-61, shooting an overall 36% from the floor.

The Griz were led in scoring by freshman Michael Oguine who had 21 points on 50 percent shooting, just one week after he posted a new career high of 27 points against Montana State. Oguine was the driving force for the Griz in the second half, scoring 14 points after the break as the Griz chased a 22-30 halftime lead for the Wildcats.

Martin Breunig was dominant early for Montana, scoring nine of the first 11 points, and finishing on 15 points.

But it was the basketball version of a pitcher’s duel at the Dee Events Center on Saturday, with both teams putting up a stifling defensive effort.

Coming into the game, Montana was averaging nearly 74 points per game, and Weber was averaging 78 PPG on the season. For the Grizzlies, the defense was there, but the shots just wouldn’t fall.

“Our defensive players did their jobs,” said Montana head coach Travis DeCuire. “You figure if you hold them to 39 percent, 27 from three, you win. The problem is that we couldn’t get the lid off the thing even from the free throw line. We win the glass 38-34, and we’re even on the turnovers, so we gave our selves an opportunity on the defensive end, we just couldn’t make a shot.”

The Grizzlies started the game with the lead, as Breunig asserted his will down low in the absence of Weber State’s Joel Bolomboy, who missed the game with a knee injury suffered last week.

The Griz jumped out to a 15-12 lead halfway through the opening period when Bobby Moorehead picked off a WSU pass and fed Oguine for the jumper to give UM a three-point lead.

Not long after though, the Griz went on the first of two long scoring droughts that turned UM’s lead into a 27-17 deficit, and kept the Griz out of the scoring column for over five minutes.

Oguine would add a circus shot layup to break the scoring drought, and the Griz entered the locker room down 22-30 at the half.

Montana came out of the halftime break on a tear, scoring the first eight points of the half in short order to tie the game at 30, thanks to a pair of jumpers from Mario Dunn, and four more points in the paint from Fabijan Krslovic and Oguine.

Breunig seemed to vent a little bit of frustration, throwing down a huge dunk just minutes later, after stealing the ball, feeding it to Wright, and getting the feed back for the slam.

Breunig’s dunk and a pair of Oguine free throws closed WSU’s lead to 35-34, but then the shooting drought reappeared.

For five more minutes, the Griz went scoreless, but the Montana defense was also airtight, allowing only two more points.

Bobby Moorehead snapped the drought with 7:54 to play, nailing the first three-pointer of the night for the Griz to tie the game at 37.

After tying the game again at 39, Weber State stated to slowly pull away from Montana until Oguine started attacking the rim to draw fouls.

The plan worked, as Oguine scored 12 of the Montana’s last 15 points, but it was too little, too late for the Griz as Weber State defended their home court with the 54-60 win.

THE GOOD NEWS: Montana returns home next week for the final two regular season games of the season as the Griz host North Dakota on Thursday, March 3 at 8 p.m., and Northern Colorado on Saturday, March 5, in a 2 p.m. tipoff.

Montana defeated both UND and UNC on the road earlier in the league season.

THE BETTER NEWS: Weber State is forced to take one of the Big Sky’s most difficult road trips to finish the season next week, traveling to face Idaho and Eastern Washington in Moscow and Cheney, respectively.

Montana Sports Information

Montana State Women's Recap:

It wasn't pretty, but it was a win. And, with the victory the Montana State women's basketball team remained atop the Big Sky Conference standings with one week remaining.
On Senior Night, it was a sophomore that delivered the biggest gift. Delany Junkermier's back-to-back three-pointers with under 13-seconds left in regulation - the later from 22-feet and with one-second on the clock – tied the score at 66-all. The Bobcats carried the momentum into overtime, eventually escaping with an 82-80 win over Idaho State.
"I can't explain it," said MSU head coach Tricia Binford. "It just shows the character of our kids. We were out of sorts for most on the night. I think we might've been dealing with the emotions of Senior Night, but hey, when we needed her, Delany lights it up, and we find a new way to win."
Montana State (21-6, 14-2) stammered out of the gates connecting on just one-of-13 shots in the opening quarter. However, Idaho State (13-14, 6-10) racked up ten fouls and the Bobcats converted 15-of-16 free throws to own a five-point lead heading into the second quarter.
MSU's shooting woes continued in the second period and ISU's Anna Policicchio went to town inside to give the Bengals a 30-26 advantage at intermission. Policicchio finished the opening half with sixteen points.
Idaho State opened the second half on an 8-4 run to take its largest lead of the game at 38-30 at the 6:59 mark. MSU whittled away at the deficit and a layup by Peyton Ferris tied the game at 41-all with 2:27 left in the quarter.
In the final quarter, neither team held more than a three-point advantage with the score changing hands eight times and even on five occasions.
ISU finally took the largest lead of the quarter with 29-seconds left on a Policicchio basket. With 19-seconds remaining, Apiphany Woods converted one of two free throws and the Bengals pushed its lead to five points.
Montana State sophomore Hannah Caudill converted two free throws with 17-seconds left and MSU put ISU at the line, again. This time, Isabel Vara de Rey went one-of-two with 15-seconds remaining to give ISU a 64-60 lead.
Following a Bobcat timeout, MSU advanced the ball to mid-court and Ferris quickly found Junkermier who nailed her first triple of the night to get Montana State to within one point with 13-seconds left.
With seven-seconds left, Lindsay Stockton fouled ISU's Freya Newton and the junior sank both charity tosses. Again, the Bobcats called timeout and advanced the ball. With one tick on the clock, Caudill found Junkermier for a three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
"We had a new found confidence, and with our crowd backing us, we just carried the momentum," Binford said.
In the extra period, a pair of Ferris free throws gave MSU a 70-68 lead at the 3:35 mark, and the Bobcats never trailed the rest of the way.
In the final three-minutes, Stockton, playing in her 115th game as a Bobcat, went to work connecting on seven-of-ten free throws, while coming up with two big steals and two rebounds.
In all, the Bobcats converted 14-of-21 free throws in overtime to secure the win.
Ferris paced MSU with 22 points, while Stockton 14, Jasmine Hommes 11, Junkermier 11 and Riley Nordgaard 10, also posted double-digits. The Bobcats finished the game shooting 32 percent from the field.
The Bobcats made 41-of-54 free throws to set a new school record from the line. The old mark of 34 made free throws was set at Eastern Washington on Feb. 6, 2003.
Policicchio recorded a career-high 27 points to pace the Bengals.
Montana State will close out regular-season play at Northern Colorado and North Dakota next weekend.

Montana State Sports Information

Montana State Men's Recap:

Idaho State guard Ethan Telfair scored a game-high 31 points, including a game-sealing three-pointer with 1:18 to play, as the Bengals topped Montana State 76-69 in Pocatello's Reed Gym on Saturday.
Telfair's heroics overcame another sensational performance by Bobcat freshman Tyler Hall. The MSU guard finished with 27 points on 10-for-17 shooting. Marcus Colbertchipped in a dozen for the Bobcats, while Sarp Gobeloglu added 11.
Idaho State led by as many as 11 points, but the Bobcats roared back in the second half to tie the score on several occasions. ISU turned the tide by trooping to the free throw line 36 times, hitting 22 of them. MSU was 9-for-10 from the line, for a 13-point Bengals advantage from the charity stripe.
MSU falls to 12-16 with the loss, 7-9 in the conference. The Bengals are 15-13 overall, 10-6 in the league. The Cats close the regular season next weekend, hosting Northern Colorado on Thursday and North Dakota Saturday afternoon.

Montana State Sports Information

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