(University of Montana media release)
MISSOULA - It was 13 seconds into the game when Gabi Harrington started Montana’s annual Maroon-Silver scrimmage with a 3-pointer, and just like that the Lady Griz were off and running.
In its soft opener to another season, Montana, split between the two teams, made its first five shots and eight of its first 10, as Maroon pulled out a 58-53 victory in a 34-minute game.
Sammy Fatkin led Montana with 19 points, going 8 for 12 from the field, and it was fitting that it didn’t matter which team she suited up for.
With most players shuffling between the teams at the quarter breaks, both sides ended up shooting better than 44 percent in an early display of the team’s balance and depth.
There was no noticeable drop-off or weak team, no matter how the roster was divided, no matter who was the floor at any given time, from seniors to freshmen.
“I feel like we have the best chemistry we’ve had in the four years I’ve been here,” said Harrington, a redshirt junior. “We mesh really well no matter what the lineup is.”
Four other players reached double figures, with Taylor Goligoski going for 13. Jordyn Schweyen added 12, courtesy of a 4-for-5 night from the arc.
McKenzie Johnston, looking in February form already, had 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, seven assists and six rebounds. Sophia Stiles matched Johnston with 10 points of her own.
“We definitely played together as a whole,” said Emma Stockholm, who totaled nine points on 4-of-9 shooting. “It was a good, collective effort. We’re pretty balanced.”
After Schweyen gave Silver a 17-14 lead at the end of the first quarter with a late 3-pointer, Maroon took over in the second.
Led by Stiles’ six points in the period, Maroon outscored Silver 19-8 on 7-of-15 shooting to take a 33-25 lead at the half.
The key to the one-sided quarter? Maroon played all eight minutes without a turnover on a night the two teams would combine for 26.
“Our turnovers are one area we need to work on. We’re pushing the ball, which can lead to turnovers, but we need to clean those up a little bit more,” added Stockholm.
Silver would crawl back to within two in the third quarter and tie it in the fourth, pulling even at 45-45 on a basket by Shelby Schweyen, but a Stockholm jumper and 3-pointer by Fatkin would push the lead back to five.
Stockholm made it a two-possession game, 58-53, with 1:14 to play with a basket in the paint, and Silver was unable to answer in the final minute.
“It was nice to finally be able to play a few of those kids together,” said fourth-year coach Shannon Schweyen. “We’re still a big work in progress.
“Overall there was some good and some bad. There are always things you have to clean up and get better at this early in the season.”
Montana will play its first of two exhibition games on Friday when it hosts Lewis-Clark State at 7 p.m. The Lady Griz will face Carroll next Tuesday.
“It will be nice to play somebody else. It’s the time of year when you get tired of banging on each other,” said Schweyen.
“You’re ready to get out there and compete against somebody else and kind of really see where you’re at.”