MISSOULA – It’s the time of year everyone wants to reach their peak, but the Montana Lady Griz have slid into a hole lately. Montana has gone from first place in the Big Sky Conference down into a tie for seventh over the past 17 days.
UM has suffered a four-game losing streak in the four games since they lost freshman star Sophia Stiles to a season-ending knee injury, and head coach Shannon Schweyen admits her absence has played a big part in the skid.
But although it will take valuable time to replace her, Schweyen is pleased with the way her team has picked up the slack defensively. Now the team needs to find some offense.
“It wasn’t so much that we had horrible starts, it was just our shots didn’t go in,” Schweyen said about her team digging early deficits in their last two losses. “I felt like we had a few too many untimely turnovers in both the Eastern (Washington) and Idaho games. But we did get good shots.”
The coach added the importance of rebounding and hustling to make up for the offensive struggles.
“When we’re having a hard time buying a basket, that’s always an area where you hope somebody will go get an easy one and get a putback,” she said. “We needed to have that kind of energy and we didn’t. Hopefully that will be something that is better this time around.”
Schweyen praised Hailey Nicholson, Nora Klick and Sierra Anderson for stepping in lately. The trio had seen their minutes cut in conference play, but all have played a much bigger role since Stiles’ injury.
Montana suffered one of its more disheartening losses in its first rivalry showdown with Montana State this year. The Bobcats dominated in an 81-64 victory in Bozeman. Now the Lady Griz look for revenge at home this week. UM hosts MSU at 2 p.m. Saturday in Dahlberg Arena.
The Bobcats have also lost four of their past five games, just like the Lady Griz. Now both teams are 8-7 in conference play, tied for seventh place. But the two are only 1.5 games out of third and fourth place, the last two spots to receive byes in the first round of the Big Sky Tournament.