Amy Kame scored a game-high 25 points and hit the decisive jumper with 41 seconds remaining to lead San Diego to a 60-57 victory over Montana Monday night at Dahlberg Arena in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. Stats
The Toreros (24-8) advance to face Washington Wednesday night in Seattle in the WNIT’s round of 16. The Huskies, who trailed by 12 at the half, won at Oregon Monday night, 93-85.
Montana’s season comes to an end with a record of 23-11. Also coming to an end was its 11-game home-court winning streak.
The Lady Griz trailed 36-32 at the break and never held a second-half lead, but Montana came back from a 12-point deficit with nine minutes left and tied it 55-55 on a jumper by sophomore McCalle Feller with 1:03 left.
That set up Kame’s heroics, and the Toreros went 3 for 4 from the line in the final 18 seconds to extend their season by at least one more game.
“That was a heck of a battle and a heck of a game,” said UM coach Robin Selvig. “I’m proud of the battlers I’ve got, because that’s a pretty good team to come back on after falling behind by 12.
“The difference, of course, was turnovers.” Were they ever.
Playing without senior point guard Torry Hill for the second straight game, Montana turned the ball over 21 times, one off its season high.
Many were careless and unforced. Others were the result of San Diego’s pressure. All proved to be costly in what turned out to be a one-possession game.
Trailing 55-51 with the clock under five minutes and with San Diego in the middle of a five-minute scoreless stretch, Montana turned it over twice.
After two free throws by redshirt junior Kellie Cole cut the lead to 55-53 with 3:48 left, the Lady Griz twice more had possessions end in turnovers.
And still Feller’s basket sent the teams into the final minute tied 55-55.
With 3,240 fans on their feet and at their loudest, Kame got into the lane, where Montana was missing its other injured starter, redshirt junior Carly Selvig, and feathered in the game winner.
They were two of 38 points the Toreros scored Monday night in the Selvig-free paint.
With a chance to tie or take the lead on a three, the Lady Griz committed their 21st and final turnover on their next possession, and San Diego used solid free throw shooting to hold on for the win.
“We had 21 turnovers, and maybe five of those turned into layups for them. And a couple of times we didn’t even get a shot up when we had a chance to tie or take the lead. But credit them. Their defense was good and they pressured us well,” said Selvig.
“In a close game like this, we’re feeling a lot better if just one or two things go our way. It was that kind of game.”
Montana came out and grabbed a pair of early five-point leads, but that easy offense — 11 points in the first four and a half minutes — came to an end when San Diego threw in some full-court pressure.
An 11-6 lead turned into a 14-11 deficit in less than two minutes, courtesy of four Lady Griz turnovers, and the Toreros had found a weakness they would exploit all night long.
They also found easy scoring in the paint, where Montana was in desperate need of the long-armed Selvig. San Diego, which knocked down just a single 3-pointer on the night, hit 13 of its 15 first-half field goals in the lane.
“We wanted to get them shooting outside more, and we didn’t do a good enough job of that, particularly in the first half,” Selvig said. “The second half we switched to man, and that seemed to be a little better.”
Montana held San Diego to 24 second-half points, just 12 of which came in the paint, but 10 more Lady Griz turnovers and an extended cold stretch to open the half put the home team in a hole it was never able to climb all the way out of.
Over the opening eight minutes, Montana went 1 for 10 and committed four turnovers, and that allowed San Diego to build a pair of 12-point leads.
“We had a cold stretch where we couldn’t get a shot down, and I thought we were getting pretty good looks,” Selvig said. “In that stretch it was just going in and out.”
The Toreros’ only 3-pointer of the game came with 7:14 to play, and it gave them a 54-44 lead. San Diego would not hit another field goal until Kame’s winner in the final minute.
Turnovers prevented what could have been a game-winning comeback, but it was still a gutsy rally by a shorthanded and young Lady Griz squad.
Cole started it with a 3-pointer with 6:58 remaining, and Feller scored all six of her second-half points on nothing-but-net jumpers, her final basket tying it with 1:03 left.
Kame’s basket followed, and two Kame free throws with 18 seconds remaining came after Montana’s final turnover of the night.
Cole cut the lead to two, 59-57, with an end-to-end drive, and USD’s Katherine Hamilton gave the Lady Griz life when she missed the second of two free throws with eight seconds left.
But a scramble for the rebound took precious seconds off the clock, and without a timeout, the best Montana could get at the buzzer was a desperate attempt from 30 feet out by Sullivan, who was playing in her program-record 129th and final career game and was UM’s only senior on the floor Monday.
Cole led the Lady Griz with 16 points and five assists. Freshman Kayleigh Valley came off the bench to add 10, her fourth time in UM’s final five games with at least nine points.
In her first career start, freshman Alycia Sims had seven points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
— Montana Sports Information