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Lady Griz clamp down on Utes to end two-game skid

There's more than one way to break out of a shooting slump, and the Montana Lady Griz found them Saturday night at Dahlberg Arena. They held Utah to 40 percent shooting, shut down Utah's All-America candidate, Kim Smith, for three-quarters of the game, and beat the Utes 61-58.

Oh, and they also made some baskets, to the delight of 3,748 witnesses.

The biggest came with 1:35 to play. Juliann Keller rebounded a miss and put it in to give Montana a 59-58 lead, and she added two free throws with 5 seconds left.

In between those points, Utah called a time out with 20 seconds remaining and set up a play for Smith that UM center Hollie Tyler blocked a moment before the shot clock expired. The Lady Griz, with two fouls to give, hampered Utah's progress upcourt after Keller's free throws, but the Utes still got Shona Thorburn a decent look at a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

She missed, and Montana's two-game losing streak - including a season-low 45-point game against Colorado State in their previous outing - was history. It also avenged Utah's 77-38 win over the Lady Griz last year in Salt Lake City.

"The last two games we haven't been playing like ourselves," said Lady Griz guard Brooklynn Lorenzen, who had 8 points, 7 assists and just 1 turnover. "There was a little vengeance involved tonight. We played with a lot of intensity and energy."

Montana (11-4) shot 50 percent in the first half and 45 percent for the game. Tyler was 7 of 9 from the field and led the Lady Griz with 15 points.

"It was nice to have some shots falling," Tyler said. "Utah has really good players and a really good team."

"This team is getting everybody's best shot," Utah coach Elaine Elliott said.

Ranked 24th in the latest ESPN/USA Today poll and one spot out of the Associated Press' Top 25, Utah (10-4) trailed for the bulk of the contest but never panicked.

The Utes stormed back from an early 24-11 deficit to trail by just 31-29 at the half, and were down 41-33 with 13 1/2 minutes left but four times retook one-point leads in the last six minutes.

"When we got up early I was thinking it'd be nice to pull away from them, but I was just dreaming," Montana coach Robin Selvig said. "They're too good to get away from."

There were two ties and eight lead changes down the stretch. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Kelsy Stireman gave Utah its first lead since the opening two minutes, at 48-47 with 6:08 to go.

Carly Marshall's 3-pointer at the 4-minute mark put the Utes ahead 55-54, and - just beating the shot clock - Smith knocked down her only 3 of the night with 2:46 left.

But Montana answered every time: Julie Deming, Katie Edwards and Tyler all made key baskets, then Deming - who was only 2 of 10 from the field - buried a 3-pointer with 3:20 left to put the Lady Griz up 57-55.

After Smith's trey gave Utah a 58-57 lead, the table was set for Keller to close it out.

"There's no embarrassment losing to this team in this building," Elliott said. "Things went their way. I liked our effort - we made it a game down the stretch, and we never got a break."

Smith, who played 40 minutes and often found herself double- and triple-teamed, didn't score her first points until the 3:34 mark of the first half, and had just six points as the game entered its last 9 minutes. She ended up with 13 points on 6 of 16 shooting, but did score a double-double, hauling down a game-high 12 rebounds.

"We did a nice job defensively," Selvig said. "And we shot 50 percent in the first half. They're a good defensive team, and it's not like you're going to come out and light it up on them."

Instead, Utah's shooting percentage hovered around the 28-percent mark for a good chunk of the first half while Montana built its early lead. Crystal Baird, Tyler's backup, gave the Lady Griz a huge lift during UM's 24-7 run, scoring all 9 of her points over a 3 minute, 20 second stretch.

"I think I've had the worst five games of my life our last five games," Baird said. "It's about time I made a shot."

Keller ended up with 10 points and led Montana in rebounding with seven. The Lady Griz, who failed to get a single offensive rebound in the first half and were being outrebounded 18-10 at halftime, did a better job on the boards in the last 20 minutes and ended up on the short end of a 31-28 count.

The win came at an opportune time. Montana begins Big Sky Conference play with three straight road games.

"And all against legitimate title contenders," Selvig noted.

The Lady Griz are at Idaho State Thursday, Weber State on Saturday and must go to Montana State on Jan. 23 before they'll play at home again on Jan. 29.

"Because of that, I thought it was very important that we play well after the last two games we've had," Selvig said. "Winning's a plus, but I just wanted us to play well."

Mission accomplished.

The Utes, whose other three losses this season also came on the road, at Cal-Santa Barbara, Oklahoma and Oregon State, open Mountain West Conference play Thursday at Wyoming.

UTAH (58)


f-Smith 40 6-16 0-0 12 2 3 13

f-Marshall 31 4-7 2-2 6 1 6 12

c-Little 14 2-3 0-0 2 2 0 4

g-Thorburn 40 1-9 3-4 5 1 4 5

g-Stireman 27 4-4 2-4 2 1 0 13

Wood 19 3-5 0-0 1 0 0 9

Sitterud 29 0-6 2-2 3 1 1 2

Totals 200 20-50 9-12 28 8 14 58



f-Keller 28 2-6 6-6 7 1 1 10

f-Deming 31 2-10 0-0 5 4 1 5

c-Tyler 25 7-9 0-0 5 0 0 15

g-Edwards 33 4-6 1-1 5 1 1 9

g-Lorenzen 31 3-9 0-0 0 2 7 8

Monaco 7 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0

DeShazer 8 1-2 0-0 0 0 2 3

McLeod 11 0-1 0-0 1 0 0 0

Brooks 10 0-2 2-2 1 0 1 2

Baird 16 4-6 0-0 2 2 1 9

Totals 200 23-51 9-9 26 11 14 61

Halftime score: Montana 31, Utah 29.

3-point goals: Utah 9-23 (Stireman 3-3, Wood 3-5, Marshall 2-2, Smith 1-5, Sitterud 0-3), Montana 6-13 (Lorenzen 2-6, Tyler 1-1, Baird 1-1, Deming 1-2, DeShazer 1-2, Edwards 0-1).

Turnovers: Utah 11 (Marshall 2, Little 2, Wood 2, Sitterud 2), Montana 9 (Deming 2, Tyler 2, Baird 2).

Blocked shots: Utah 2 (Thorburn 2), Montana 3 (Baird 2).

Steals: Uthah 4 (Stireman 3), Montana 8 (Deming 3).

Officials: Lolly Saenz, Mark Munoz, Zina Wood.

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