Try 1 month for 99¢
Sammy Fatkin for PSU preview

Montana super-sub Sammy Fatkin, shown in action last Saturday against Northern Arizona, grew up about four hours north of Portland, Oregon, in Snohomish, Washington. Fatkin and the Lady Griz will battle Portland State on Saturday afternoon at the new Viking Pavilion in Portland.  

MISSOULA — Grueling double-OT wins require a certain amount of recovery time afterwards.

The Montana women's basketball team posted arguably the biggest road triumph of coach Shannon Schweyen's three-year head coaching stint on Thursday. The Lady Griz outlasted fast-breaking Sacramento State in a 50-minute free-for-all that finished after 10 p.m. Mountain time.

On Friday they hopped a plane, determined to make it two road wins in a row Saturday at 3 p.m. at Portland State. If you're keeping count, that's 39 hours in between games — not much considering part of it was spent in the air and Montana's point guard and leading scorer, McKenzie Johnston, is recuperating from her second broken nose of the season Thursday night.

Add the fact that Saturday's contest is Montana's third in six days and fourth in eight and you're asking an awful lot of a road-weary bunch.

"That was some serious perseverance by our girls to just hang in there," Schweyen said of Thursday's barn-burner. "It was pretty neat to see the way they just never gave up.

"Of all the places in the league that have a different feel, that place does. It can get chaotic in there."

The Big Sky Conference-leading Lady Griz (3-0, 8-4) will face a different sort of chaos at Portland State's new venue, Viking Pavilion. The Vikes (1-1, 9-2) will try to give Montana fits with a zone defense that thrives with long-armed defenders.

"I'm sure the girls will be excited with Portland State doing so well. They're aware of their overall record, so they'll be ready," Schweyen said.

"Sac's style is better for some kids than others, so there's some of our kids that didn't get as many minutes as normal (Thursday). They'll be fresh for Portland State. That's the luxury of our depth."

Like Montana, Portland State is coming off a confidence-building win. The Vikings edged Montana State 55-53 at Viking Pavilion Thursday.

The Bobcats shot just 30.6 percent from the floor.

"At times they've got Courtney West, Pia Jurhar, who are both around 6-foot-2, 6-3, then (Ashley) Bolston up at the top of the zone who is 6-1," Schweyen said of the Vikes' steel-trap defense. "To have three kids in a zone like that, it's definitely unique. And they've gotten really good at it.

"They're very experienced. They hold their opponents down to low shooting percentages and rebound well off it."

Portland State opened the season 8-0 and received some attention on with an appearance in its 10-team mid-major poll. But the level of competition was nowhere near what Montana was facing at places like Gonzaga, Arizona and Washington.

Last Monday the Vikings played at Northern Colorado and trailed 26-12 after the first quarter on their way to a 79-63 loss. How good Portland State truly is remains to be seen, but the Vikings did return all five starters from a team that won 19 games last season and lost by three to Idaho in the Big Sky tournament semifinals.

After Saturday, the Lady Griz have their next three games at home, starting with Thursday's contest against Eastern Washington.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Bill Speltz is the Deputy Sports Editor of the Missoulian. Email him at

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.