Bengals finish season sweep of Lady Griz
Feb. 6, 2012
Idaho State locked down Montana defensively for the second time this season and did just enough offensively to remain atop the Big Sky Conference standings with a 54-48 victory over the Lady Griz Monday night at Pocatello, Idaho.
The Bengals, who limited Montana to 99 points in the teams' two meetings this season, swept the Lady Griz in the regular season for just the second time since the teams became conference opponents in 1980-81.
The win kept Idaho State (17-6, 9-1 BSC) atop the Big Sky and allowed the Bengals to rebound from their first league loss of the season, a 79-67 home overtime loss to Montana State last Thursday.
Montana (13-10, 6-4 BSC) dropped into a tie for fourth with Northern Colorado and saw its two-game winning streak come to an end and most likely its hopes of contending for a regular-season championship.
With an opportunity to get back into the championship picture, Montana played one of its sloppiest games of the season. The Lady Griz turned the ball over 14 times in the first half -- 19 for the game, one off a season high -- allowed a season-high 21 offensive rebounds and went just 3 for 9 from the line.
Despite that, Montana was in a one- or two-possession game for much of the second half because of its own defensive efforts.
Katie Baker scored two of her game-high 17 points on a jumper with 14:32 to play that gave Montana its final lead of the game, 31-30.
Idaho State answered with what would be the decisive stretch of the game. The Bengals scored eight straight points while holding the Lady Griz scoreless for over five minutes.
A Chelsea Pickering basket put Idaho State ahead 38-31 at the 10:49 mark, and Montana could not get the lead under four the final 10 minutes.
Montana's last-gasp chance came after Kellie Cole cut the lead to five, 53-48, with 1:15 remaining. On ISU's next possession, the Bengals took a low-percentage shot late in the shot clock, but Cydney Horton grabbed the offensive rebound to end any sort of threat.
"I thought we did a decent job defensively, but they got 21 offensive rebounds," UM coach Robin Selvig said. "We were in man, but they were still running down every rebound.
"We missed layups and shot horribly from the free throw line. That's the nature of it. It's a close game, and we didn't make the plays or quite enough shots."
Montana opened its road trip with a 61-54 win at Montana State Saturday afternoon. The Lady Griz face a tough turnaround with home games Thursday and Saturday against Sacramento State and Northern Colorado.
"It would have been an unbelievably good road trip if we could have got them. We don't have time to pout, though, because we know we're going to be in a track meet Thursday against Sac."
Montana struggled against Idaho State's Big Sky-leading defense from the opening minute. The Lady Griz already had double-digit turnovers midway through the first half and made just two baskets from inside the 3-point arc in the opening 20 minutes.
Montana trailed 28-23 at the half and would have had something in the teens if it hadn't opened hot from 3-point range.
The Lady Griz went 6 for 11 from 3-point range in the first half. That that resulted in just 23 points was the result of a 2-for-11 effort from inside the arc and a 1-for-6 performance from the free throw line.
Baker led both teams with 17 points, mostly because of her hot hand from distance. She entered the game with 12 career 3-pointers and went 4 for 5 Monday.
Torry Hill went 3 for 5 from 3-point range and added 13 points. Cole got hot briefly in the second half, when she scored all seven of her points, but the rest of the team was mostly contained.
Kaela Oakes, who tormented Montana in the teams' matchup in Missoula in early January, scored 16 points to lead Idaho State. Ashleigh Vella had a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double.
The Bengals' 21 offensive rebounds allowed them to finish with a 45-36 rebounding advantage.
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