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Montana Lady Griz sink 16 3-pointers, use big run fourth-quarter run to close out South Dakota

Dani Bartsch
Posted at 10:14 PM, Jan 03, 2024

MISSOULA — The Montana Lady Griz used two big runs — one in the second quarter and one in the fourth — to pull away for a 74-61 win over South Dakota in the Big Sky Conference-Summit League Challenge Wednesday night at Dahlberg Arena.

South Dakota started the game hot, hitting five 3-pointers in the first quarter to build a lead that got to as many as 13 points. But Gina Marxen and Dani Bartsch sparked a second-quarter run that swung momentum in Montana's favor.

Marxen dished out six assists and Bartsch scored 14 points, sinking four 3-pointers, in the first half, as the Lady Griz outscored the Coyotes 27-16 in the second quarter. Marxen capped the first half with a hesitation move into a lay-up that gave Montana a 42-41 lead going into the break.

The teams played an even third quarter, with neither leading by more than six points in the frame, and South Dakota ultimately took a 56-55 lead into the fourth.

After Kendall Holmes hit a 3 early in the fourth to put the Coyotes up 59-55, Montana closed the game on a 19-2 run. The surge included five points from Marxen and seven from Carmen Gfeller, who finished with a game-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Marxen had a double-double of 10 points and 10 assists, while Bartsch had a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double. She added four steals and two blocks in what coach Brian Holsinger called "one of the greatest performances I’ve seen since I’ve been here, from a defensive and offensive perspective.”

The Lady Griz tied a program record with 16 made 3-pointers in the game. Bartsch had five 3s, and Gfeller and Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw each made three. Marxen added two 3s, while Mack Konig, MJ Bruno and Macey Huard each had one.

Holmes had a team-high 15 points to lead South Dakota, and Grace Larkins nearly had a triple-double for the Coyotes, finishing with nine points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.

Montana has now won six consecutive games, tying the longest winning streak in Holsinger's tenure on the bench. The Lady Griz (9-3) play their second game of the Big Sky Conference-Summit League Challenge on Saturday when they visit Nebraska-Omaha. Tipoff is at 1 p.m. (MT).