Hill, Lady Griz roll in Denver

DENVER — Montana jumped out to a 26-point halftime lead and Torry Hill scored a career-high 20 points as the Lady Griz won their first road game of the season, 84-58 Wednesday night for their most lopsided road victory in five seasons.

UM-DEN stats

Montana, which hadn’t had as convincing a road win since topping Idaho State by 34 during the 2008-09 season, remains unbeaten on the season at 3-0, while the Pioneers drop to 1-5.

Hill, whose previous career high was 19 points, scored 15 in the first half, and Montana shot 58.1 percent over the opening 20 minutes to take a 46-20 halftime lead. Denver wouldn’t get closer than 19 points in the second half.

“Who would have thought we’d get them down by 26 at the half? We’re making shots, we’re handling what they’re throwing at us, and defensively we were really good. That was just a great first half for us,” UM coach Robin Selvig said.

“Fortunately we kept scoring in the second half, so they never really could put a run together.”

Hill went 6 for 8 in the first half, 3 for 4 from 3-point range, and her 15 points, 4 steals and 3 assists sparked Montana early. The Lady Griz also had a 20-10 rebounding advantage in the opening half and forced 12 Denver turnovers.

After a crisp first half, the second frame turned into an ugly foul fest. Montana was whistled for 13 second-half fouls, Denver 11, and the teams went to the line 30 times.

“Things got a little ragged in the second half,” Selvig said. “It’s one thing to play someone who’s dribbling, kicking and shooting threes. With this team there was no pretense of throwing a pass. They were going right to the hole.

“We were doing everything we could not to foul, and they were still drawing fouls on us. Everything was good tonight, other than we put them at the line too much.”

The mounting fouls took their toll as the second half wore on, and Jordan Sullivan, Carly Selvig and Maggie Rickman all ended up fouling out. It turned out not to be an issue, because the Lady Griz bench was up for the challenge.

Montana’s reserves scored 28 of the team’s 38 second-half points, and that allowed the Lady Griz to maintain their comfortable lead.

Most of team’s 39 bench points in the game came from 3-point range, as the five Montana reserves who scored in the game connected on eight 3-pointers. Six of those came in the second half.

McCalle Feller scored nine points on three triples, Haley Vining added six on a pair of threes, and Alycia Sims, who didn’t need the 3-point shot, played her third strong game in three outings in a Lady Griz uniform with 13 points and a team-high six rebounds.

“Alycia played great again. She was real solid,” Selvig said. “And we had some kids come off the bench and get some threes down. We have good shooters off the bench. We just need to find time for them.”

Hill was mostly brilliant while playing a team-high 29 minutes. She went 8 for 13 from the floor, 4 for 6 from 3-point range, and added five steals, four assists and three rebounds. Her playmaking set the tone for the entire team. The Lady Griz totaled 22 assists on their 29 made field goals.

“Torry had a huge game,” Selvig said. “She not only played well, as she has been doing, but she made shots tonight, which makes a big difference.”

Montana finished at 49.2 percent shooting for the game, a heady percentage not reached once during last year’s Big Sky Conference championship season, and went 12 for 25 (.480) from 3-point range. Six different players connected from the arc.

The Lady Griz finished with a 37-32 rebounding advantage and forced 20 Denver turnovers, while limiting the Pioneers to 37.5 percent shooting.

Denver was led by Kailey Edwards, who scored 16 points and grabbed seven boards.

Wednesday night’s game was the first of three in four days for Montana, which travels to Los Angeles on Thursday and will open the Loyola Marymount tournament with North Dakota State on Friday afternoon.

The Lady Griz will face either UC Irvine or LMU on Saturday.

“Tonight was a heck of a win for us,” Selvig said. “Now we’ve beaten a pretty good team on the road.

“You can’t have a great road trip if don’t start with a good win. We’ve got two more to go, so we’ll see if we can make this a great road trip.”

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