Lady Griz roll past Skylights in opener

Molly Klinker scored her first collegiate points Sunday

Molly Klinker scored her first collegiate points Sunday

Nov. 10, 2013

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The Montana women's basketball team raced out to a 49-20 halftime lead and went on to a 76-49 victory over MSU Northern Sunday afternoon at Dahlberg Arena in the Lady Griz' season opener.

The win gave 36th-year Montana coach Robin Selvig his 799th career victory in 1,054 games coached. He'll have his first opportunity to become the sixth active NCAA Division I women's basketball coach to reach 800 wins on Monday, Nov. 18, when the Lady Griz host Portland.

That Sunday's game turned into what felt like Montana's third exhibition game was a surprise given MSU Northern opened the season 4-0 and was in a one-point game against Wyoming with 11 minutes to go on Friday before falling 71-57.

After Montana gave up a basket to A'Jha Edwards directly off the opening jump -- Edwards, a 6-foot-5 transfer, tipped the ball backwards, took off toward the basket and took a lead pass from Taylor Cummings for an uncontested lay-up -- the Lady Griz were clinical in their early play.

Montana hit 7 of its opening 11 shots, including its first five 3-pointers from four different players. At the other end, after giving up the early basket to Edwards, the Lady Griz forced the Skylights into five misses and five turnovers on their next nine possessions.

With a little more than five minutes gone, Montana led 17-2, and the outcome was decided. The Lady Griz led by 29 at the break and by at least 26 points the entire second half.

"It was a little bit scary getting ready for these guys because they had just played Wyoming tough, they have four other wins, and they have the big girl," Selvig said. "So I didn't anticipate we were going to get away from them like we did.

"I hope we can always play like we did those first 10 minutes or so. We were talking and active and doing good things on defense. It makes such a difference when everybody's making shots. It makes it a lot of fun.

"I just wish we could have done a little more of that the second half."

Montana shot 48.6 percent in the first half, then hit just 8 of 32 shots (.250) in the second as Northern outscored the home team 29-27.

It was expected that the chance to go 13 deep in a game ended with Thursday's exhibition victory over Montana Western, but Selvig was able to get at least eight and as many as 16 minutes for all eight bench players in uniform. The group responded with 34 points.

Senior Jordan Sullivan led Montana's starters with 12 points. Senior Torry Hill finished with 11, redshirt junior Kellie Cole added 10. That trio combined to go 12 for 25 (.480).

Five of Montana's eight bench players saw the first regular-season minutes of their careers: redshirt freshmen Molly Klinker, DJ Reinhardt and Rachel Staudacher and true freshmen Alycia Sims and Kayleigh Valley.

Sims and redshirt sophomore Hannah Doran both scored seven points. Sims also grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds, five on the offensive end, to help Montana to a 49-32 rebounding advantage.

The Lady Griz gave up just seven offensive boards, and they resulted in only six second-chance points for the Skylights.

"We did a good job on the boards again," Selvig said. "They didn't get hardly any second shots. That's a major point of emphasis for us every day."

Montana made 10 3-pointers in 29 attempts (.345), a total reached just once a year ago, and finished with 16 assists and 12 turnovers. Hill led Montana in both 3-pointers made (3) and assists (4).

"Our threes were all good looks," Selvig said. "If we could have gotten a little bit hot there, it would have been kind of fun. And I'll take 12 turnovers. I thought we took care of it well. It never got raggedy."

Montana limited MSU Northern to 33.3 percent shooting and forced 20 Skylight turnovers.

Edwards, who was blocked cleanly and emphatically by redshirt junior Carly Selvig the first time Edwards attempted a post move, was limited to a quiet 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Rachelle Bennett led Northern with 11 points.



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