OGDEN, Utah — Montana had every chance it needed Thursday night to win for the eighth time in nine games, but the Lady Griz shot 33.9 percent and turned the ball over 19 times to fall at Weber State 56-54 in a game marred by poor shooting from both teams. UM-WSU stats
The Wildcats (6-18, 2-13 BSC), who entered the week on a 51-game losing streak against Big Sky Conference opponents, won for the second time in four days and handed Montana (16-8, 10-5 BSC) its fifth loss in seven league road games this season.
The final 27 seconds were a microcosm of the entire game for Montana: a missed layup sandwiched by two turnovers. And an opportunity lost.
“It was just brutal. We couldn’t make a shot. We couldn’t do anything,” said UM coach Robin Selvig. “We had lots of good shots, but nobody could make one. And we had more turnovers than we needed to have.”
The loss keeps Montana tied for second with Southern Utah, which lost 59-54 at Eastern Washington Thursday, but both teams dropped two games in the win column behind North Dakota, which had no trouble defeating Northern Arizona 71-41 in Grand Forks.
Should the final standings come down to a single-game difference, Montana will be able to look back at Thursday’s loss as one that it did more to lose than Weber State, which shot 32.8 percent, did to win.
Montana built an eight-point first-half lead but led by just two at the break, 22-20, despite holding Weber State to 19.4 percent shooting.
Neither team was able to gain any separation in the second half until a pair of Weber State free throws and back-to-back 3-pointers just 30 seconds apart from WSU’s Amanda Hughes gave the Wildcats a nine-point lead, 54-45, with 3:35 remaining.
It took less than two minutes for the Lady Griz to tie it back up. Torry Hill started Montana’s 9-0 run with a three. Carly Selvig hit a jumper in the paint and two free throws to cut the Weber lead to two, and Hill connected on a driving layup in the lane with 1:12 left to make it 54-54.
But Montana was unable to close it out.
After forcing a Weber State miss, the Lady Griz had a baseline out-of-bounds play under their own basket with 27 seconds left. Hill tried a lob to Selvig in the paint, but her pass was deflected and grabbed by the Wildcats.
With the shot clock off, Weber’s Desiree Ramos opted to put the game in the referees’ hands. She drove wildly to the basket with forearms high and never did attempt a shot, but Montana’s Maggie Rickman was called for a shooting foul. Ramos hit both free throws with 18 seconds left to make it 56-54.
Jordan Sullivan, 2 for 11 Thursday and 4 for her last 22, had a point-blank layup with 10 seconds left that could have tied it. She missed, and Hughes was sent to the line with six seconds remaining.
Hughes missed the front end of a one-and-one, and with Weber pressuring full-court, Montana had a quick breakout the other way.
With the clock running down, Rickman led a break at the other end. She dished to an open player for a potential tying basket, but she also ran over the lone Wildcat defender for Montana’s final turnover of the game. The Wildcats ran out the final 1.6 seconds.
“They did a nice job defensively and didn’t make it easy, but you just aren’t going to win very often if you don’t knock down a few more shots than we did,” Selvig said.
“We shot poorly. That’s a fact, but I liked our battle. You still have to find a way to win, and we almost did.”
Rickman matched her career high with 14 points, and Hill added 10 points and Selvig eight, but no one else scored more than six. Selvig also had seven rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
Kellie Cole, who leads Montana in scoring and is the reigning Big Sky Conference Player of the Week, was held without a point for the second time in four games, and she and Hill combined for 12 costly turnovers.
Alycia Sims had six points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Kalie Matthews, who played 34 minutes off the bench, led the Wildcats with a 14-point, 13-rebound double-double. Hughes also had 14 points.
If Montana wants to remain in the hunt for the Big Sky regular-season championship, Saturday’s game at Idaho State, which is game two of four straight on the road, becomes almost must-win.
The Bengals (10-14, 8-7 BSC) defeated Montana State at Pocatello Thursday night 75-65. In the other league game Thursday, Northern Colorado won 62-55 at home over Sacramento State.
— Montana Sports Information