MISSOULA – Several recent injuries have forced Montana Lady Griz head coach Shannon Schweyen to stick with one lineup.
And it’s working.
The new starting group of Jace Henderson and Emma Stockholm at forward, and McKenzie Johnston, Gabi Harrington and Sammy Fatkin on the perimeter has played a vast majority of the past three games. They each totaled at least 31 minutes in Saturday’s win at Weber State and the previous week’s win over Idaho. All of that time together has helped build some chemistry.
“You get in a flow a little bit,” said Henderson. “Girls can make a mistake here or there and we understand that they are not going to make it again here in a minute or two. I think we are starting to move well with one another, we’re getting a flow, and I think our coaching staff sees that.”
“I feel really confident in the five of us that are starting together,” added Stockholm. “I played with Sam Fatkin previously in AAU ball, so her and I know each other’s strengths really well. It’s been really good. I’m excited for what we’re going to be able to do.”
The Lady Griz are 2.5 games back in the Big Sky Conference standings, tied for fifth place. Montana showed it can beat the top Big Sky teams when it took down Idaho a couple weeks ago, but the Lady Griz followed that up with a poor offensive performance in a loss at Idaho State.
The Lady Griz need more consistency to make a run, and what better time to start than a trip to Bozeman. UM next takes on Montana State, the other team tied for fifth, in a game important for more than the usual bragging rights.
“Oh, it’s huge,” said Henderson. “I think we want to show the conference that we are very competitive, and we want to be in the top four teams. To do that early in January, to get as many wins as we can before we get to tournament time, is going to be super important for our team. And I hope our girls take it as a competitive challenge.”
The Lady Griz have lost four consecutive games in Worthington Arena. They look to move ahead of the rival Bobcats at 2 p.m. Saturday. The men battle to wrap up the doubleheader at 7 p.m.