MISSOULA — The rivalry always has plenty of intensity, but this Saturday may be a little tenser than usual when the Montana Lady Griz battle the Montana State Bobcats.
Montana has six games left to jump up the rankings into that fifth seed, which secures a bye in the first round of the Big Sky Conference tournament.
Currently, the Lady Griz sit in sixth with Montana State half a game ahead in the fifth position.
A home win over MSU would move UM into fifth, but the Lady Griz still have some tough tests ahead.
Coach Shannon Schweyen and her players know the importance of the rivalry rematch and the final conference games that follow.
“Anyone who is rallying for that spot with you, you at least need to get a split with. That’s extremely important in that regard. We do have to look at it as another game and just be ready to go, because there is still a lot of league left and lots of things can still happen,” said Schweyen.
On top of that, the Cats will be without start shooter Claire Lundberg. The Lady Griz know that they’ll have to shift their game plan to fit that, but they aren’t going to forget about the other MSU shooters.
“Obviously Claire was a big focus for our attention — she was shooting the ball so well from 3, 44 percent, leading them in scoring and a lot of departments,” Schweyen said. “So, a little bit different in that regard that we don’t have Claire to worry about, but (Martha) Kuderer is a really good shooter and Madeline Smith is coming off a really big weekend, so they’ve got very talented players and we’ve got to go in and do what we do best.”
“It’s unfortunate she got an injury like that, you never want to see that. We’ll change our game plan a little bit. We were focused on her and now we can focus more on the big picture instead of just shutting down one person,” said Griz guard McKenzie Johnston.