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Montana Lady Griz rally past Utah Valley

Posted: 7:57 AM, Dec 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-08 09:57:34-05
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(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)

OREM, Utah -- The Montana women’s basketball team turned a nine-point, third-quarter deficit into a 63-52 victory over Utah Valley on Saturday afternoon at Lockhart Arena in Orem, Utah.

The Lady Griz (4-3), who have won back-to-back road games for the first time since 2017-18, scored the final four points of the third quarter, then outscored the Wolverines (1-7) 25-9 in the fourth.

“It’s a great thing when you go on the road and come back. I like the resilience these guys are showing all the time,” said coach Shannon Schweyen.

“On the road you’ve got to learn how to play through those things. I was proud of the way they did that. We finally came alive a little bit in the fourth quarter.”

Trailing 43-38 going into the final period, Montana was nearly flawless in the fourth quarter.

The Lady Griz went 9 for 14, with eight assists and six players scoring. At the other end Montana held Utah Valley to 4-of-16 shooting while out-rebounding the Wolverines the final 10 minutes 14-3.

“It took us a long time to get going in this one. We just didn’t quite have focus from the get-go,” said Schweyen.

In another display of the team’s balance, five players scored in double figures despite Montana totaling only 63 points.

Jamie Pickens scored 15 on 7-of-14 shooting. Emma Stockholm, who scored seven points in the fourth quarter, and Gabi Harrington both had 11, McKenzie Johnston and Taylor Goligoski 10.

“Jamie had a good one and made some outside shots. It’s nice to see her get a bit more comfortable all the time out there,” said Schweyen. “It was nice to see her have one of those.”

Utah Valley entered the game looking for its first Division I victory of the season and played like it, outhustling Montana early on.

The Wolverines shot just 29.4 percent in the first quarter but grabbed five offensive rebounds in the opening five minutes. Those led to four second-chance points.

The teams were tied at 12 after the first quarter, at 30 at the half.

“We talked about blocking out and rebounding, and I don’t think it was even a few minutes into the game and they already had a bunch,” said Schweyen.

“That was a big point of emphasis at halftime, then we came out and got off to a pretty slow start to the second half.”

Aided by three Montana turnovers in less than two minutes, Utah Valley turned a 32-32 deadlock into a 41-32 advantage with 4:25 to play in the third.

The lead was still nine, 43-34, when Pickens scored twice late in the third quarter to give Montana a bit of momentum heading into the fourth, trailing by only five, 43-38.

Baskets early in the fourth quarter by Harrington and Pickens kept the Lady Griz on a roll, and another Pickens field goal gave Montana a 48-46 lead, its first since the second quarter.

Stockholm had a key offensive rebound and putback with 5:21 to go that gave Montana the lead for good, 51-50. Less than a minute later she made it 53-50.

On the other end, Harrington had a steal, which led to a fast-break layup for Goligoski. And just like that Montana led 55-50 and was on its way to the victory.

The game’s decisive run would be 13-0, as the Lady Griz turned a 50-48 deficit into a 61-50 lead.

“Gabi anticipated the ball going to the corner, and she jumped up and stole it. Those plays are all the difference, getting a few of those stops,” said Schweyen.

“I love the way they got it done. They dug deep.”

Johnston added eight assists, which moves into the top 10 in that statistical category in program history, Pickens had three blocks, the first of her collegiate career, and Montana went 14 for 16 from the line.

Defensively, a team that had been allowing its opponents to shoot 44.0 percent on the season entering the game limited the Wolverines to 32.8 percent, their starters going 13 for 48 (.271).

After opening the game going 5 for 10 from the arc, Utah Valley would make just one of its final 14 to finish 6 for 24 from 3-point range.

Montana won’t play against until Sunday, Dec. 15, when the Lady Griz play at South Dakota, which is off to a 9-1 start and has wins over Utah, Missouri, Ohio State and Creighton.