Taylor Goligoski thwarted a Cal State Fullerton comeback with a go-ahead 3-point shot late in the fourth quarter as the Montana women’s basketball team topped the Titans, 71-69, Saturday in Fullerton, California.
After leading by as many as 17 points, the Titans used a 12-1 run in the late third quarter and early fourth to take the lead on a Raina Perez jump shot. CS Fullerton led by as many as three, but Goligoski buried a triple with 1:09 left to give the Grizzlies the lead back for good.
“Glad they hung on to it,” Montana head coach Shannon Schweyen told KMPT radio after the game. “It would have been a tough one to lose.”
Montana went on a 26-8 run over a nine-minute stretch from late in the first quarter to the middle of the second, which helped the Grizzlies seemingly take control of the game. Leading by 11 after Sammy Fatkin hit a 3-pointer with less than six seconds to go in the first quarter, the Lady Griz started to quickly pile the points on after the first break.
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Jamie Pickens made two free throws in the first 30 seconds of the second quarter and Sophia Stiles added on a triple. The Titans were able to cut the lead to single digits with under a minute left in the half, but Goligoski hit a shot to push the Lady Griz lead back to 10 points.
Montana led 39-28 at halftime.
“I love the fact that she wants to take those and she’s looking for those,” Schweyen said of Goligoski’s distance shooting. “One of the things I really like about Taylor is her defense … just proud of her tonight.”
A big third quarter run that included CS Fullerton hitting 5 of 8 shots from deep helped the Titans get back into the game and by the early fourth, the Lady Griz were reeling.
Montana’s offense slowed down significantly and the ball movement was not as crisp as it had been over the first 20 minutes of play. Perez, Fullerton's star guard, also started to find the bottom of the net and eventually finished with a game-high 17 points on 15 shots.
The Grizzles also struggled from the free-throw line throughout the game, hitting just 16 of 28 from the charity stripe.
“This was a game where you get to the line a lot and boy you need to make those,” Schweyen said. “We could have really been putting it away, but those missed free throws and a couple turnovers and it was a ball game.”
Along the 3-point line, however, Montana was able to find points. Stiles and Goligoski combined to go 7 of 11 from range, with the Lady Griz getting nine total makes from behind the arc.
McKenzie Johnston had 15 points, four rebounds and five assists for Montana, while Stiles ended with 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Freshman Jamie Pickens was also in double figures, scoring 11 points, matching Goligoski.
Montana is now 4-0 all-time against CS Fullerton, with Saturday’s matchup being the first time since 2006 the teams have played. The Lady Griz get a week off before heading to Orem to play Utah Valley on Dec. 7.
“So many people came in and did some great things,” Schweyen said. “Proud of Taylor for banging those big threes in, she played with great confidence … just a little bit from everybody, it was just a fantastic game.”
Jordan Hansen covers a bunch of stuff for the Missoulian and 406 Sports. Shout at him on Twitter @jordyhansen or shoot him an email at Jordan.Hansen@406mtsports.com