BOISE, Idaho — The Montana Lady Griz got the shot they wanted.
Trailing Northern Arizona 68-65 with 10 seconds remaining in the teams’ quarterfinal game of the Big Sky Conference women’s basketball tournament at CenturyLink Arena on Tuesday, Lady Griz coach Shannon Schweyen drew up a play to get Emma Stockholm a 3-point look from the corner.
UM executed the play perfectly, but Stockholm’s shot caromed off the iron, sealing Northern Arizona’s 68-65 win and sending the Lumberjacks into a semifinal meeting with top-seeded Montana State on Wednesday.
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“(Northern Arizona) got it going a little bit (in the) second half. Every time we kind of make a run, they’d come down and hit a 3. They got away from us a little bit, we lost some shooters, and they capitalized on those opportunities and knocked down some big 3's in the second half,” Schweyen said. “I thought we did a heck of a job climbing back into that. They took it possession by possession and did everything we asked from them. We got our top 3-point shooter a great shot to try to tie it and unfortunately it didn’t go.”
The Lady Griz built a 27-20 lead midway through the second quarter but went ice cold for the game’s next eight minutes. The Lumberjacks went on a 16–0 run spanning the end of the second quarter and beginning of the third to take a 36-27 lead. The margin hung between four and nine points until UM made things interesting in the fourth.
Abby Anderson and McKenzie Johnston got the Lady Griz to within one point multiple times, and the game was stuck at 50-49 for more than two minutes. UM could never push through, though, and NAU ultimately stretched the lead back to 64-56 with 2:03 to go.
Taylor Goligoski sank a corner 3 to spark a spurt that brought the Lady Griz back within 65-63, but Northern Arizona made three of four free throws down the stretch.
“We were really trying to take it possession by possession down the stretch,” Schweyen said. “We took a few shots I thought were a little bit out of character for us, but all in all it was really tough to get any rebound putbacks or some easy ones.”
Montana had eight offensive rebounds but lost the overall rebounding battle 45-36. The Lady Griz made just 26 of 69 field goals in the game, especially struggling from 3-point range with a 2-of-14 mark.
Northern Arizona made eight 3s (on 22 attempts) and won the game despite committing 16 turnovers and only forcing six Montana turnovers. Lauren Orndoff led a balanced scoring attack for the Lumberjacks with 17 points. Khiarica Rashed (14 points), Jacey Bailey (13) and Nina Radford (11) also finished in double figures. Orndoff, Bailey and Radford combined to make 8 of 16 3-point attempts, with six of those coming in the second half.
Johnston, playing in her last game at UM, had a game-high 18 points and six assists. Anderson added 15 points, Stockholm 13 and Goligoski 10.
“I just think how much I’ve grown since being here, and with Shannon, as well,” Johnston said of her Lady Griz career. “What we’ve been able to do, our freshman year wasn’t very good at all, but we stayed positive and we just kept looking for the future and we just kept getting better every year, and I think that’s something to be proud of because not a lot of teams keep growing like that.”