Montana Lady Griz point guard McKenzie Johnston talks with UM head coach Shannon Schweyen. (MTN Sports photo)

MISSOULA — With only five games left on the regular-season schedule, the Montana Lady Grizzlies recognize the time is now to make a run. Three of those games are at home, and guard McKenzie Johnston puts it best when she says the Lady Griz have a true home-court advantage.

“Our crowd just really gets us into it. I mean, if we’re making a run, they’re up on their feet, they’re loud and it just brings energy. And if we start getting behind, they start bringing energy to let us know they’re still behind us, and our crowd has just been there for us this whole time — through our building year and through everything, and it doesn’t get much better than the crowd here,” Johnston said.

The Lady Griz are coming off tough road losses against Portland State and Sacramento State, where they allowed a combined 149 points.

They are still in the thick of the Big Sky Conference standings, though, now sitting in fourth place with an 8-5 conference record.

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Head coach Shannon Schweyen says the loss of freshman guard Sophia Stiles has obviously hurt the team, but she is confident they can adjust quickly and find a way to replace her production.

“We certainly want to be playing our best basketball at the end,” Schweyen said. “And we’re up against these teams that we haven’t had a chance to play against, so there’s always some learning curve in that. But I think they’re fired up to be back home. We’ve got Senior Night on Saturday, and the girls definitely want to appreciate Mekayla (Isaac), Kayleigh (Valley) and Alicia (Harris) for all they’ve given to Lady Griz basketball.”

The first of Montana’s last three home games of the regular season will be on Thursday at 7 p.m. against Eastern Washington.

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