MISSOULA -- On Feb. 1 the Montana Lady Griz and Montana State Bobcats played the first of their two rivalry games this season.
In that first meeting in Missoula, the Lady Griz never trailed the Bobcats in the first three quarters and took a 10-point lead into the fourth. In the fourth, though, Montana shot 0 for 15 from the field and was outscored by MSU 14-3. The Bobcats forced overtime and eventually came away with the victory.
Plain and simple, Montana had an opportunity to upset its rival and the No. 1 team in the Big Sky Conference at home, and it missed it.
"When we weren't producing in the fourth quarter, (MSU) had great defense on us," said Lady Griz senior McKenzie Johnston. "We can't have those types of games where it comes down to the end and we are not producing while they are."
Not being able to close in the fourth quarter is something the Lady Griz have struggled with in conference play. Two straight losses to Portland State and Idaho earlier in the year were decided in the final minutes of the fourth quarter as Montana wasn't able to get over the hump. While it's been an obvious issue for Montana, it's something the team doesn't shy away from addressing.
Coming into Saturday's contest against the Cats, not only are the Lady Griz looking to correct their flaws, but they're also hoping to pick up the team's first win in Bozeman since the 2013-14 season, something the seniors would like to go out on.
"It means a lot to me, especially after that last game," said Johnston. "We had them up until that fourth quarter obviously. It's such a cool atmosphere and that might be the best we'll get the rest of the season, besides here. So, I'm looking forward to playing them again and getting another crack at them. The outcomes haven't been what I wanted, but for my senior season, if it is the last time we play them, it would mean a lot to beat them."
Montana (14-10 overall, 9-6 conference) takes on Montana State (17-6, 13-1) in Bozeman at 2 p.m. Saturday.