OGDEN, Utah – Some losses sting more than others.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Thursday’s setback felt like a 12 for the Montana women’s basketball team.
The Lady Griz simply couldn’t find a rhythm offensively in dropping a costly Big Sky Conference decision to Weber State, 56-54, in front of 657 fans at the Dee Events Center.
The win was only the second of the season in league play for the Wildcats (2-13 conference, 6-18 overall). They entered the week with a 51-game conference skid and now they’ve won two Big Sky games in a row, including Monday’s home decision over Idaho State.
“It’s about time, huh?” Weber coach Bethann Ord said with a smile. “It’s about time it’s a happy one.
“It’s all about getting over the hump. Our players worked their tails off. That Montana team is a great team, and Robin (Selvig) is obviously a great coach. Eight hundred wins and more – shoot, I’ll have to coach for a long time to get there.”
Montana fell to 10-5 in conference play at 16-8 overall. It lost valuable ground to league leader North Dakota, which moved to 12-4 in the Big Sky with a blowout home win over Northern Arizona.
UM hit 33.9 percent of its shots from the floor (20 for 59). Kellie Cole, the most prolific scorer on the team, was held without a point. Senior go-to teammate Jordy Sullivan was held to six points, hitting 2 of 11 from the floor.
“We shot terrible, I mean we couldn’t make any shots,” Selvig said. “We did a nice job defensively, that kept us in the game.
“Give them credit. They played hard. This time we didn’t make the big plays down the stretch.”
Cole had a hard time putting the evening into words.
“We need to make our layups, that’s for sure,” she offered. “It’s hard to play here. The atmosphere is totally different. It’s hard to get pumped up. But we tried.”
To Montana’s credit, it did manage to overcome a nine-point deficit with just over three minutes to go. Torry Hill hit a 3-ball and a layup and Carly Selvig chipped in with a bucket and two free throws in a 9-0 Lady Griz burst.
With the score tied at 54-54, Desiree Ramos missed a runner for Weber State and the ball was tracked down by UM guard McCalle Feller. Montana worked the ball inside to Maggie Rickman but the Wildcats thwarted her attempt in knocking the ball out of bounds.
After a 30-second timeout, Hill’s inbound pass with 27.5 seconds left was tipped and then stolen by Ramos. She was fouled by Rickman with 18.1 ticks remaining after lowering her head and driving the lane. From there she calmly stepped to the foul line to nail a pair of free throws.
“I wanted to take those shots,” Ramos said. “I had confidence stepping up and knew they were going in.”
Sullivan missed a potential game-tying attempt on a contested layup. Amanda Hughes grabbed the rebound for WSU and was quickly fouled. She missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity and Carly Selvig grabbed the rebound.
Montana moved the ball up-court for one last shot in transition. Rickman drove the lane and made a nice dish to Cole for an apparent layup, but Rickman was whistled for charging with 1.5 seconds left.
From there Weber inbounded the ball and sealed the win.
“Our game plan was to attack the basket,” said Ord, whose team hit 20 of 61 shots against Montana’s zone. “A lot of teams in our league don’t like to handle the dribble-drive. That was a big word on our board: Attack the basket.
“We missed a lot of bunnies in the first half. But we continued to work at it and attacking was huge in the second half.”
Rickman matched her career high with 14 points. Hill added 10 and Sullivan grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds for the Lady Griz.
“We don’t have time to cry about this,” Coach Selvig said. “Everybody is pretty good in this league. Now we’ve got a big one Saturday (at Idaho State). That’s just the way it is.”
|WEBER STATE (56)|
|Halftime score: Montana 22, Weber State 20|
|3-point goals: UM 3-15 (Sullivan 0-2, Rickman 0-1, Hill 2-6, Cole 0-2, Feller 0-2, Doran 1-2). WS 3-11 (Hughes 2-5, Ramos 1-4, Mounier 0-1, Averette 0-1).|
|Turnovers: UM 19 (Hill 7), WS 13 (Okoye 3).|
|Blocked shots: UM 5 (Selvig 4), WS 2 (Hughes, Matthews).|
|Steals: UM 7 (Selvig 3), WS 12 (Hughes 3, Okoye 3).|
|Officials: Darla Foutz, Janetta Graham, Kaili Kimura|