If the Montana Lady Griz occasionally had trouble with the dribble-driving Wolverines of Utah Valley Friday, Carly Selvig had their back.
Selvig had a double-double -- 10 rebounds and a career-best 10 blocks -- in Montana’s 68-44 win over Utah Valley in the 34th Lady Griz Classic at Dahlberg Arena.
Montana’s win, its fourth straight, sets up a championship battle with Austin Peay Saturday; the Governors edged Saint Louis 86-81 behind Tiasha Gray’s triple-double earlier Friday.
Tip-off Saturday will be at approximately 7:45 p.m.
Friday’s nightcap had fewer points, and a lot of that was due to Selvig. She had five blocks in the first 17 minutes while the Lady Griz pushed out to a 34-10 lead.
“They just keep coming at me,” said the 6-foot-2 senior, who has swatted 23 shots in UM’s last three games. “It was funny: Mikayla Isaak, after my last block, said, ‘You’d think they’d learn.’ ”
The youthful bunch of Wolverines deserve credit for getting defenders on the hip, if not for having a Plan B once they got into the key. They still closed the first half with a flourich, scoring 11 straight points – including a banked 30-footer from Mariah Seals that pared the gap to 34-23.
“They’re a pretty good team,” UM coach Robin Selvig said. “They had a little run there at the end of the half. We’re still up 13, but I didn’t like that much.
“I talked about, ‘We need to come out of the chute (in the second half) like we did at the start of the game.’ ”
Utah Valley (5-7) actually scored the first bucket of the second half, by Rhaiah Spooner-Knight. Then UM scored the next eight points, four coming from Kayleigh Valley.
The sophomore forward, who scored 17 points in 18 foul-plagued minutes, hit a fast-break layup off Kellie Cole Rubel’s pass for a 42-23 gap at the 16:30 mark.
Valley tied teammate McCalle Feller for a game-high in points. Shanae Gilman adde 14 points in 17 minutes off the bench. Her fourth 3-pointer but the Lady Griz up 49-30 with 11:45 in the game, and Feller hit her third a couple minutes later to make it 52-30.
Rubel had eight assists, including a pass to Hannah Doran at 8:13 of the first quarter that launched a 16-0 Montana burst.
Rubel fed Valley for a three-point play in the surge; Feller hit a three to make it 29-10; Gilham hit her third bomb of the first half to make it 34-10 at the 2:27 mark.
If it looked over, the Wolverines didn’t see it.
“We went dry there for a while,” Carly Selvig said. “On defense we needed to talk more, communicate more. Taking people out, putting people in, we just need to keep that communication going.”
She blocked Utah Valley’s first shot of the second half, to reset the tone. She stayed vertical and let the penetration get to her before deflecting the shot, inside-out.
“I use my long arms to my advantage, obviously,” said the 2013-14 Big Sky Conference player of the year. “Having them think they have a lot of room, and then closing up on them.”
“When there’s a defensive presence like that, it definitely changes what you can do offensively at the rim,” said Utah Valley coach Cathy Nixon. “What’d she have, 10 tonight? That’s a lot.”
The Lady may need more of that Saturday. Austin Peay is stocked with guards as well as a 6-3 pivot in Tearra Banks. Gray didn’t shoot well for the Governors but still had 12 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
Selvig’s presence will be key.
“That first half, she just simply jumped out,” said Robin Selvig, her uncle. “They have some good kids off the dribble, and she blocked it or changed it. She’s a hell of a force there.
“I thought everybody did a nice job defensively, but it’s easier to defend when she’s behind you.”