GREAT FALLS, Mont. – In an otherwise uneventful senior night game for Lady Argo basketball, one major milestone was set and one school record broken. Aside from individual accomplishments, the team play wasn’t all that good for UGF. The team shot 25.8 percent from the field in a 72-48 loss to (20) Montana Western.
Two Lady Argos were on the precipice of big individual numbers entering the game. The first was junior guard Stephanie McDonagh who was one steal short of the breaking the program record for steals in a season. It was a mere formality that she would get there, and she didn’t keep the crowd waiting for very long.
With 7:33 on the clock in the first quarter, the Bulldogs stole the ball for UGF and tried to get out in transition, but McDonagh broke up the break and the school record. She added a second steal later in the game to finish the season with 79 steals. Before the start of the game, she ranked 11th in NAIA Division I in total steals and 17th in steals pergame (2.679 spg).
The second milestone was much less assured. Playing in her final college game, senior guard Darah Huertas-Vining was 12 points shy of scoring 1,000 career points.
With 9 points, she looked well on her way at the end of the first half, but as the third quarter started to wind down, Huertas-Vining went cold. With the question starting to be if, not when, the senior finally pulled through.
On a transition play for UGF, McDonagh pushed the ball towards the paint, then turned around and scoped the ball to a trailing Huertas-Vining. She calmly knocked down the three as the crowd erupted in celebration. She became the seventh Lady Argo to reach the 1,000 point mark.
While the chance of record brought some drama to the game, the game itself didn’t provide much excitement. The Lady Argos were cold to start, but Western hit three 3-pointers to take a 9-0 lead.
The Lady Argos never fully recovered from that, though they did get as close as 2 points three times in the first half. It was struggles on the offensive end that caused problems for UGF, making 8 of 30 field goal attempts in the first half. Defensively, they forced the Bulldogs into 10 turnovers and senior Whitney George patrolled the paint with 3 first half blocks.
It was more of the same in the second half. Western was still sloppy with the ball, turning it over 8 times, and UGF still struggled to put points on the board, making just a quarter of its shots.
Not only were McDonagh and Huertas-Vining the stories of the game due to their significant season or career totals, they were also the two most effective players for the Lady Argos.
McDonagh led the team with 16 points and 7 rebounds, along with her 2 steals. Huertas-Vining finished with exactly the 12 points that she needed while leading the team with 4 steals in 25 minutes of play.
The loss puts an end to a disappointing season for UGF. The Lady Argos started the year ranked 18th in the NAIA and went a perfect 11-0 in non-conference play including wins over two ranked teams. Frontier Conference play was a different story, however, with just one conference win and a 12-game losing streak to end the season with a 12-17 (1-17) record.