MISSOULA — After two weeks without playing a game, the Montana Lady Griz ended that layoff with a 93-57 victory over Portland State on Thursday night at Dahlberg Arena.
Freshman Haley Huard had a game-high 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting from 3-point range, and Abby Anderson added a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds as the Lady Griz improved to 11-4 and 4-2 in Big Sky Conference play.
Montana started fast and led 20-7 at the 2:57 mark of the first quarter after a layup from Dani Bartsch. Portland State found some rhythm of its own and trimmed the deficit to 21-16 by the end of the first quarter.
"We came out and were just a little soft. The edge wasn't there on defense," Lady Griz coach Brian Holsinger said. "We called timeout and said this is not OK, they've scored this many times in a row and then we closed out the half and I think stopped them eight out of nine times. The second half, I just challenged them and said hey, we have to come with that same edge all of the time, and we really did for most of the game."
From there, Montana began to take over, as the Lady Griz went into halftime up 43-30 after a 3-pointer from Carmen Gfeller just before the buzzer.
Sammy Fatkin added 16 points and Gfeller finished with 12, all of which came in the first half. The Lady Griz shot at a 49.2% rate from the field and went 12 for 29 from deep and 17 for 21 from the line.
"I think it felt great. We were all super hungry to come out and play someone different than each other and I think that showed when we got on the court tonight," Huard said. "It was just great, we all played really well as a team together and I think we got a lot better in those two weeks off.
"It's crazy just how amazing my teammates are. Everyone is so supportive of each other and I think that's so rare nowadays and it just brings the energy up for the whole team and it's so fun when everyone is supportive of each other."
Portland State (5-8, 0-5) finished shooting 36.2% from the field and went 7 for 29 from three.
"I told them this morning that one of the things we've had is really good practice," Holsinger said. "More practice than you'd normally have at this time of the year and we've gone really hard. And so what we've tried to do is replicate games, we tried making it really tough on them as best we can so I was excited to see how we responded.
"You watch practice over and over and you watch tape and I thought we'd improved but you never know until you get here in a game situation and you see we got better at this, we got better at that so it was good to see us improve in some areas I thought we need to especially after Christmas."
UM has a big conference game with Northern Arizona (7-7, 4-2) on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Missoula.