MISSOULA — After scoring 93 points on Thursday night against Portland State, offense was tougher to come by for the Montana Lady Griz on Saturday afternoon against Northern Arizona.
Despite shooting just 37.7% from the field, the Lady Griz grinded out a 66-60 victory over the Lumberjacks in Dahlberg Arena in a battle of two teams that came into the game with 4-2 Big Sky Conference records. NAU is coached by Havre native Loree Payne.
"For us, it's always good to experience close stuff where you're calling timeouts, you're drawing things up. That experience pays off," Lady Griz coach Brian Holsinger said. "You're not going to walk through this conference. You're going to have games like that and so every time you gain a little experience with that kind of stuff like that where they can execute and I can draw things up and they're doing the right thing. It's invaluable."
Carmen Gfeller poured in 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for UM while Sammy Fatkin added 13 points. After knocking down 12 3-pointers on Thursday, UM (12-4, 5-2) went 4 for 14 from deep against NAU (7-8, 4-3).
NAU led for most of the first half before the Lady Griz got a pair of free throws from Nyah Morris-Nelson to make it 27-25 at the break. It was back-and-forth from there before UM grabbed the lead and began to distance itself late in the third quarter.
"This was a big turnaround for our team because it definitely separates the top and bottom halves I feel like for the season," Gfeller said. "We knew that they would come in and play a good game, that's NAU, that's what they do. And I think it's a really big surge of confidence going into Monday for us."
Late baskets helped keep NAU in the game in the final minutes but the Lady Griz salted the game away with free throws. The Lady Griz finished shooting 22 for 28 from the line while NAU was 7 for 9.
Haley Huard finished with 11 points while Sophia Stiles added nine points and nine rebounds for the Lady Griz who take on rival Montana State (10-8, 5-2) in Bozeman on Monday.