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Montana Lady Griz fall to Fresno State

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Posted at 10:41 AM, Nov 16, 2019

(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)

MISSOULA -- In its first game of the season against a Division I opponent, the Montana women’s basketball team lost 76-63 to Fresno State on Friday night at Dahlberg Arena.

The Bulldogs (3-0) hit 10 3-pointers and hustled their way to 15 offensive rebounds, which led to 17 game-changing points.

The Lady Griz (1-1) were down just four, 41-37, midway through the third quarter when a 16-3 run put Fresno State in control.

The visitors would lead by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter.

“It was one of those nights when you put people in looking for a spark from somebody, and we couldn’t find it,” said coach Shannon Schweyen, whose team went 0 for 12 from the arc.

“We got a lot of good looks. We just had a really tough time buying an outside one. It was one of those nights when the offense was not clicking. You hate nights like that. It’s frustrating.”

In its first test of the season after playing three straight games against NAIA opponents, two in exhibition, one to open the regular season, Montana led for just 70 seconds.

Fresno State used a strong finish to the second quarter to build a 37-28 halftime advantage. Montana outshot the Bulldogs over the opening 20 minutes, but the Lady Griz committed nine costly turnovers.

“We had a lot of kids doing some uncharacteristic things,” said Schweyen. “I felt like we had a few too many turnovers against their press, unforced ones.”

In the third quarter, when Montana needed to make a full-team charge to get back into the game, it was Fresno State against McKenzie Johnston.

Johnston scored 13 of her team’s 14 points in the quarter, going 5 for 5, with two blocked shots and a charge taken. The rest of the team was 0 for 7 with four turnovers.

Fresno State took advantage and led 57-42 through three quarters.

“A huge shout-out to Kenzie for the way she played tonight. She was making stuff happen on the bottom of the zone, getting deflections, steals, boards, taking charges. She just played her butt off,” said Schweyen.

“It would have been nice if we could have made a little run and gotten the crowd back into it.”

Gabi Harrington was limited to three points on 1-of-7 shooting. Sammy Fatkin shot 1 for 7 as well. She and Taylor Goligoski, who went 0 for 4, both had just two points.

Johnston finished with 19 points. Jamie Pickens had 12 of Montana’s 19 points off the bench.

“Jamie came in and did a nice job. Other than that, we struggled finding the hot hand tonight,” said Schweyen.

Montana actually did a nice job on Fresno State’s Big Three, who came in averaging more than 56 points between them.

Maddi Utti and Hanna and Haley Cavinder scored 34 points, going 2 for 12 from the arc.

Up stepped Aly Gamez, who had six points in Fresno State’s first two games, with 0-of-8 shooting from the arc. She had 15 points on 3-of-5 shooting from 3-point range on Friday.

In addition to Gamez’s production, the Bulldogs’ reserves went 5 of 9 from distance.

“They got it going a little bit. They hit 10 threes and we go 0 for 12. It was different kids stepping up and making some,” said Schweyen.

And when Fresno State did miss, it was just as often the Bulldogs chasing down the offensive rebounds as it was the Lady Griz.

“The O boards were big. They hustled down a bunch of long rebounds,” said Schweyen. “You’ve got to be ready to run them down, and it felt like we were in quicksand.

“They were reacting a little quicker than us. They are a good team. To give them that many second-chance points, we can’t do that.”

Emma Stockholm had eight points and a game-high nine rebounds. Abby Anderson had eight points on 4-of-6 shooting.

In her first regular-season game in more than a year, Madi Schoening played nearly 15 minutes.

Montana now turns its attention to Grand Canyon, which is 2-1 and a 78-76 loss to North Dakota from having Fresno State’s 3-0 record.

The teams will play at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Dahlberg Arena.

“That’s what this time of year is about, learning about ourselves and where we need to improve,” said Schweyen. “(Fresno State) exposed some things that we need to get better at.”