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Montana NArizona Basketball
Northern Arizona’s Caty Huntington, left, battles for a rebound with Montana’s Shadra Robison, center, and Stephanie Stender on Thursday in Flagstaff, Ariz. Photo by RICK WACHA/Arizona Daily Sun

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Sparked by an ailing senior and a feisty freshman, the Montana women's basketball team netted a hard-earned road win on Thursday.

Senior Lauren Beck scored 11 second-half points in spite of her sore back and freshman Kenzie De Boer tallied a team-high 20 in leading the Lady Griz past Northern Arizona, 72-66, at Walkup Skydome. Montana snapped a two-game losing streak in moving into a three-way tie for third place in the Big Sky Conference at 9-6 (14-13 overall).

"Boy, it's a really good win for us," Montana coach Robin Selvig told KENR 107.5.

"... This was just a knockdown, drag-out struggle. I got frustrated at times with some of the things we were doing. But the girls, (NAU is) up seven in the second half and you hang in there. Lauren came down and made a couple big shots."

Things didn't look good for Montana when Katie Pratt hit a jumper to give Northern Arizona a 49-42 lead with under 13 minutes left. But Montana responded with a 16-4 run spearheaded by Beck and Selvig's switch to man defense.

"They got pretty comfortable against our zone with the little slip passes inside," Selvig said. "They also seemed to be coming up with every loose ball. We went man and I thought it was better."

The Jacks (3-12, 5-23) hit just 12 of 32 shots in the second half. Montana went 11 for 23 and finished at a season-best 50 percent (23 for 46) for the game.

Montana's second-half rally started when little-used reserve forward Misty Atkinson hit a layup to cut the Jacks' lead to 49-44 and reserve center Shadra Robison reeled off two blocks in two minutes to stall the NAU offense.

It was about that time Beck found her shooting touch. She scored nine points in four minutes as Montana built a 58-53 lead with seven minutes to play.

The Jacks came back to tie the score at 62-62 with four minutes left. But Montana was the better team on both ends down the stretch.

A steal by Stephanie Stender paved the way for two free throws by De Boer that gave Montana a 64-62 lead with 2:40 left. Then a steal by Beck led to a Jessa Loman Linford layup that gave the Lady Griz a 66-62 lead with 2:02 left.

From there Montana made 6 of 9 free throws in holding off the Jacks for its eighth straight win at Walkup Skydome.

"We won the battle of the boards, which we made a point of emphasis," said Selvig, referring to a 36-31 edge on the glass. "And we were strong against the press late.

"(De Boer) did a great job for us. With people getting after us she can make plays."

Selvig wasn't pleased with the 18 turnovers by his team. But he had reason to smile in the eight blocks and 10 steals recorded by the Lady Griz. Five of the blocks came from Robison.

Beck finished with four steals to go along with her 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting. Sarah Ena added 10 points and five rebounds for the Lady Griz.

Northern Arizona freshman phenom Amy Patton struggled early as her team spotted Montana a 13-point lead in the first 8 1/2 minutes. But she came alive and finished with a team-high 20 points and seven rebounds for the Jacks.

One key to Montana's clutch play down the stretch may have been Selvig's decision to rest Beck for six minutes in the first half and three in the second. Beck had averaged 38.6 minutes of playing time per game in Montana's eight contests leading up to Thursday.

"We were getting tired at the end but they almost looked more tired," Selvig said. "Patton played 40. We tried to give everybody enough breaks.

"... We didn't play very well at times, but I loved our resiliency. We really weathered the storm after we had a good start and they came back and took away momentum."

The win over the Jacks keeps Montana's hopes alive for a No. 2 seed in next week's Big Sky Conference tournament. For that to happen the Lady Griz need to win Saturday at Northern Colorado and they need Sac State and Portland State to stumble this weekend.

NOTES: Eleven of De Boer's points came from the foul line and her team held a 22-11 edge in points from the charity stripe. ... Loman Linford left the game late after being hit in the face. She went to the bench grimacing in pain. ... Walkup Skydome will not be used for NAU basketball next season. The facility will be revamped after the 2010 football season and NAU will play basketball in the Rolle Activity Center.

MONTANA (72)

Mins FG-A FT-A Reb PF A Pts

f-Ena 30 2-5 6-7 5 2 1 10

f-Lmn Lnfrd 13 2-4 2-2 5 5 0 6

g-Nce-Jnsn 20 1-2 1-2 1 1 5 3

g-Stender 31 3-8 0-0 2 0 1 8

g-Beck 31 7-10 2-4 3 2 3 17

Smith 11 1-1 0-0 3 2 0 2

De Boer 25 4-10 11-15 5 3 2 20

Hurley 9 0-1 0-0 0 0 1 0

Atkinson 5 1-2 0-0 3 0 0 2

Ware 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 0

Robison 22 2-3 0-0 4 0 0 4

Totals 200 23-46 22-30 36 15 14 72

NORTHERN ARIZONA (66)

Mins FG-A FT-A Reb PF A Pts

f-Hoisington 27 4-8 1-1 3 3 2 9

f-Boer 14 2-4 0-0 4 0 1 5

g-Toney 28 2-7 1-2 1 5 5 5

g-Huntington 23 1-4 2-3 4 5 2 5

g-Patton 40 8-18 0-0 7 1 4 20

Pratt 14 2-5 3-5 2 2 1 8

Galloway 15 1-4 2-2 0 1 2 4

Stph-Jnkns 29 0-6 2-3 1 2 2 2

Spaich 5 1-1 0-0 1 1 0 2

Amos 5 3-6 0-0 2 1 0 6

Totals 200 24-63 11-16 31 21 19 66

Halftime score: Montana 37, Northern Arizona 36.

3-point goals: UM 4-9 (Ena 0-1, Stender 2-4, Beck 1-2, De Boer 1-2), NAU 7-23 (Boer 1-1, Toney 0-1, Huntington 1-3, Patton 4-12, Pratt 1-3, Stephens-Jenkins 0-2, Amos 1-6).

Assists: UM 14 (Nance-Johnson 5), NAU 19 (Toney 5).

Turnovers: UM 18 (Ena 3, Beck 3), NAU 14 (Hoisington 3, Toney 3, Huntington 3).

Blocked shots: UM 8 (Robison 5), NAU 2 (Stephens-Jenkins, Spaich).

Steals: UM 10 (Beck 4), NAU 10 (Patton 4).

Attendance: 321

Officials: Penny Davis, Jeneane Pence Ty Elkin.

 

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