The Montana women’s basketball team trailed by nine deep into the third quarter, but put together an impressive burst late to pull out a 63-52 road win over Utah Valley in Orem, Utah.
Jamie Pickens hit two jumpers, both assisted by teammate Emma Stockholm, late in the third quarter to help cut into the Wolverine lead. The Lady Griz proceeded to rip off a 15-7 spurt to take control of the game and ended on a 29-9 run.
“It took us a long time to get going,” Montana head coach Shannon Schweyen told KMPT radio. “I don’t know what that was, we didn’t quite have focus from the get-go … and then of course we came out and got off to a pretty slow start even in the second half. I love the way they got ‘er done, they dug deep. We were figuring at some point we were going to finally start making some of those.”
Pickens finished with 15 points, four rebounds, three blocks and two assists. She shot the ball 14 times, including four times from beyond the arc. The true freshman just hit one of her 3-pointers, but Schweyen was happy to see her get one to go down.
Defensively, the Helena High product was impressive as well, especially once Montana went to its zone late in the game.
“Nice to her get a little more comfortable all the time out there. We’re trying to keep her at one position in the zone. She’s getting a little more comfy in there as well,” Schweyen said. “We had some great zone stops. Jamie had a good one, made some outside shots, got a lot of good looks at some perimeter ones.”
Montana did not shoot well from the perimeter as a team, hitting just 3 of 12 shots from 3-point range. Taylor Goligoski, who finished with 10 points, was 2 of 4 from behind the arc, with Pickens hitting the only other triple.
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Five Montana players finished in double figures, with Gabi Harrington (11 points), McKenzie Johnston (10) and Stockholm (11) joining Pickens and Goligoski. The Lady Griz hit all but two of their 16 free throws, which was also a key part of the comeback.
Montana was able to find lanes inside during the second half and drew contact fairly consistently during its comeback, though that was not the case in the first half. The Lady Griz struggled to get the ball into their posts and had just 10 points in the paint during the first two quarters. Montana doubled that in the final two and finished with 30 total, several coming off well-designed and executed inbound plays.
“We just had a hard time scoring in the first half and we were getting good ones in there. Kylie (Frohlich) posted tough, we dumped it down there, it looked like it was in and then it rimmed out. We had a couple of those,” Schweyen said. “It was good they snapped out of it and got some good stuff going in the second half.”
The Grizzlies shot 48.1 percent in the second half after converting only 10 of 27 field goal attempts over the first 20 minutes of play. Sophia Stiles had six points, five rebounds, four assists and a steal as Montana moved to 4-3 on the season. Utah Valley, which was led by Madison Grange’s 10 points, is now 1-7.
Up next for the Lady Griz is another road game, as they will travel to Vermillion for a matchup with South Dakota on Sunday, Dec. 15.
“We were figuring we couldn’t shoot that bad forever and we finally came around,” Schweyen said. “I think they just kept battling and that’s always a great thing when you can go on the road and you get off to a good start and then lose the lead and come back and then lose the lead and come back. I like the resilience these guys are showing all the time.”