010510 lady griz vs idaho state
Montana’s Lauren Beck, right, and Idaho State’s Oana Iacovita go after a rebound on Monday at Dahlberg Arena. The Lady Griz won 63-55. Photo by TOM BAUER/Missoulian TOM BAUER/Missoulian

Katie Baker calls her brother before every game and he always comes through with a pithy quote.

"Today David told me ‘Block out or get out,'" Katie said playfully.

The former Concordia University player was stressing the importance of rebounds, and he must've been proud Monday night watching little sister pile up 17. She also tallied a team-high 23 points, including 11 in the last 5 1/2 minutes, in leading the Montana women's basketball team to a 63-55 win over Idaho State at Dahlberg Arena.

The win put Montana on top of the Big Sky Conference standings with a record of 2-0, 7-7 overall. The Bengals had a four-game win streak snapped in falling to 1-1, 6-9.

Baker has blossomed into Montana's go-to player since the start of league play, racking up 47 points and 25 rebounds. On Monday she was double-teamed every time she touched the ball in the paint, but still produced big numbers.

"She's starting to get a better feel for when she has a shot," Montana coach Robin Selvig said. "She has a great mental attitude in terms of she thinks she's a player, she's coachable and I can rant and rave at her and it doesn't seem to bother her. She doesn't get down."

Baker's persistence came in quite handy against Idaho State. The Bengals made it extremely tough to maneuver in the paint, and it put the Lady Griz offense in a shooting funk for the first 23 minutes.

"It got to be a struggle and you gotta not lose poise and get frustrated," said Selvig, whose team trailed 27-26 at the break. "I think we shot 29 percent first half and missed a bunch around the basket."

The turning point in the game came with 16:35 left and the Bengals on top, 32-26. After missing six straight shots to start the second half, the Lady Griz suddenly came alive with buckets by Alyssa Smith, Baker and Shadra Robison.

That knotted the score at 32-32, marking the start of an eight-minute stretch in which the teams fought tooth-and-nail to gain an edge. Finally with just under six minutes the Lady Griz put together a 15-0 run, using 3-point shots by Stephanie Stender and Lauren Beck and seven points by Baker to build a 53-41 lead with 3:42 left.

Idaho State clawed back within five behind a pesky fullcourt press. But the Bengals failed to draw closer in the final two minutes as Stender hit another 3-ball, Beck hit three free throws and Baker two to boost Montana's home record to 7-1.

"As much as you try to describe what the atmosphere is going to be like here, they have to experience it for themselves," Idaho State coach Seton Sobolewski said, alluding to Montana's turnout of 2,661 fans. "You can say, ‘Hey don't get caught up. Just stay focused.' But it's a tough thing to do.

"(Montana) is always tough at home. They get up and they do little things that make a difference."

Some of the "little things" Sobolewski was talking about Monday were Montana's 46-38 edge in rebounds and 17-10 advantage in points from the line.

"We played pretty good ‘D' the whole night and we just hung in there," Selvig said of his 2-3 zone. "Somebody made plays.

"... Now we won a game where we shot poorly, so that's good."

The Lady Griz finished at 34.5 percent (20 for 58) for the game. They hit just 8 of 29 shots in the first half, but improved in the second, connecting on 12 of 29 looks.

Beck finished with 16 points and Stender 12 to complement Baker's stellar performance. Smith finished with four points and two assists in 16 minutes off the bench.

Bengals senior standout Oana Iacovita, who scored a career-high 31 points in a win at Montana State on Saturday, was held to 10 points by the Lady Griz. Guard Devin Diehl led Idaho State with 11 points.

Montana will shoot for its first road win Friday when it faces Eastern Washington. The Lady Griz will then battle Big Sky preseason favorite Portland State in Portland on Saturday night.

Notes: Selvig said Monday that redshirt freshman guard Ashley Ferda is still a member of the Lady Griz team even though she has not been on the bench the past two games. Ferda continues to nurse a stress fracture and was forced to go back into a boot ... Stender is 10-for-18 from 3-point range in Montana's three games since the Christmas break ... Ten of Baker's 17 rebounds came on the offensive end ... Montana has won the battle of the boards in eight of its last nine games.

IDAHO STATE (55)

Mins FG-A FT-A Reb PF A Pts

f-Iacovita 36 5-14 0-1 7 3 2 10

f-Vella 36 1-4 2-3 8 4 1 4

g-Videbeck 31 3-7 3-4 7 2 3 9

g-Pickering 30 3-13 0-0 4 4 3 7

g-Diehl 33 2-9 5-6 6 2 4 11

Oakes 10 2-3 0-0 2 3 0 6

Smith 6 0-0 0-0 1 1 0 0

Green 1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Matthews 5 2-3 0-0 1 0 0 4

Blodgett 10 1-4 0-0 0 1 0 2

Byrne 3 1-2 0-0 0 2 0 2

Totals 200 20-59 10-14 38 22 13 55

MONTANA (63)

Mins FG-A FT-A Reb PF A Pts

f-Ena 20 1-5 0-0 5 4 2 2

f-Baker 29 7-16 9-11 17 4 0 23

g-N-Johnson 33 0-4 2-2 1 0 3 2

g-Stender 31 4-8 0-0 6 0 2 12

g-Beck 31 5-16 4-6 6 4 2 16

Smith 16 2-3 0-0 1 0 2 4

DeBoer 9 0-2 0-0 2 1 0 0

Linford 20 0-2 2-2 4 1 1 2

Robison 11 1-2 0-0 2 1 0 2

Totals 200 20-58 17-21 46 15 12 63

Halfime score: Idaho State 27, Montana 26.

3-point goals: ISU 5-24 (Oakes 2-3, Diehl 2-7, Pickering 1-8, Blodgett 0-2, Iacovita 0-2, Videbeck 0-2), UM 6-12 (Stender 4-7, Beck 2-3, Nance-Johnson 0-1, Smith 0-1).

Turnovers: ISU 14 (Pickering 4), UM 16 (Ena 7).

Blocked shots: ISU 2 (Videbeck, Pickering), UM 5 (Linford 3).

Steals: ISU 8 (Vella 4), UM 6 (Beck 3).

Officials: Jason Hinch, Penny Davis, Dan Miller.

Attendance: 2,661

Sports writer Bill Speltz can be reached at 523-5255 or bill.speltz@lee.net.

 

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