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Montana Lady Griz set to begin first road trip of the season

Posted: 4:48 PM, Nov 27, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-27 18:51:22-05
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(Editor's note: University of Montana Media Release)

MISSOULA -- The Montana women’s basketball team will play its first games of the season away from Missoula this week when it competes on Friday and Saturday at Cal State Fullerton’s Titan Classic.

The Lady Griz (2-2) will face Santa Clara (3-2) at 4:30 p.m. (MT) on Friday at CSUF’s Titan Gym and the host Titans (4-2) on Saturday at 6 p.m. (MT).

Delaware (0-4) is the fourth team in the tournament.

Coverage: Both games this week will have video streaming and live stats in addition to local coverage on KMPT 930 AM/99.7 FM.

Upcoming Cyber Monday sale: Between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Monday, fans can purchase -- online only -- a general admission pass for Montana’s 10-game Big Sky Conference schedule for $49, a discount from the regular price of $70.

In review (Montana): The Lady Griz went 14-16 a year ago and tied for sixth in the Big Sky standings at 9-11. Montana lost in the first round of the league tournament to Southern Utah. The Lady Griz were picked fifth in the 11-team preseason coaches’ poll, seventh in the media poll.

In review (Santa Clara): The Broncos went 14-17 last season and finished seventh in the West Coast Conference at 6-12 in league. The team’s season ended with a loss to Pacific in the second round of the conference tournament. Santa Clara was picked fifth in the WCC preseason coaches’ poll.

In review (CSU Fullerton): The Titans went 14-16 last winter and finished sixth in the Big West Conference at 6-10. Their season came to an end with an opening-round loss to Long Beach State in the conference tournament. CSUF was picked ninth out of nine teams in the preseason coaches’ poll.

Notes on Montana:

* The Lady Griz are on the road for the first time this season after playing their first four games at home. Montana went 2-2 in those games, 1-2 against Division I opponents.

* It was just the second time since 1999-2000 that Montana opened the season with four straight home games.

* Montana has won just six true road games under fourth-year coach Shannon Schweyen and is 8-38 overall away from Missoula.

* The Lady Griz split a pair of home games last week, holding on for a 72-67 victory over Grand Canyon and falling to No. 24 Arizona on Sunday, 77-42.

* In its victory over the Lopes, Montana, behind 19 points from McKenzie Johnston, jumped out to a 42-31 halftime lead, then led the entirety of the second half.

* Grand Canyon would cut its deficit to three on two occasions in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, but Montana went 10 for 12 from the free throw line in the final period and had just one turnover over the game’s final 12 minutes.

* Montana never led in its 35-point home loss to the Wildcats on Sunday. It was the team’s largest margin of defeat at Dahlberg Arena since dropping a 78-40 decision to Washington State in 1977-78.

* The Lady Griz fell behind 23-6 after the opening quarter and never recovered, shooting 24.5 percent and getting outrebounded 46-27.

* Montana was limited to eight active players against Arizona, with three of the roster’s 13 players redshirting and two sitting out with injuries.

* The loss was Montana’s 12th straight when facing a ranked opponent.

* Taylor Goligoski, McKenzie Johnston and Gabi Harrington all scored 10 points but combined to shoot 9 for 29.

* Montana turned the ball over 14 times and allowed nine offensive rebounds. In the team’s 100-51 loss at Arizona the season before, the Lady Griz had 22 turnovers and gave up 23 offensive rebounds.

* McKenzie Johnston, at 14.5 points, is Montana’s lone player averaging in double figures. Despite going 3 for 12 against Arizona, she is still shooting 50 percent on the season.

* Johnston has scored in double figures every game this season and has scored 10 or more points in 14 of Montana’s last 15 games dating back to last season.

* Johnston is up to 1,059 career points and will likely pass Torry Hill (1,060) and Julie Deming (1,073) on the career list this week.

* Montana’s six-point first quarter on Sunday against Arizona was its lowest-scoring period since scoring just two points in the second quarter in a 60-59 home win over Idaho State last February.

* Despite Sunday’s low number, Montana continues to lead the Big Sky in field goal percentage at 43.6 percent. The Lady Griz rank ninth out of 11 teams in field goal percentage defense at .448.

* Johnston ranks sixth in the Big Sky in scoring, fifth in assists (4.3/g) and second in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.8).

Notes on Santa Clara:

* The Broncos are 3-2 with two quality losses against very solid teams.

* Santa Clara lost 65-52 at Arizona in a game the Broncos led both at the half and through three quarters. It was still a one-possession game with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

* On Friday, Santa Clara lost 71-64 at Missouri State, a team that is 6-1 and ranked No. 1 in this week’s ESPN mid-major poll. The Broncos led at the half and were down three with 4:35 to go.

That Missouri State team has wins at No. 23 Minnesota, at Boise State and at Oklahoma, and on Monday won at South Dakota to hand the Coyotes their first loss of the season.

* Santa Clara has four starters averaging in double figures, a reserve averaging 8.4 and a fifth starter averaging 7.8 (all are shooting 40.4 percent or better on the season) for a team that is shooting 45.5 percent and has 16 more assists than turnovers this season.

* Senior guard Tia Hay was voted preseason All-WCC. She led the team in scoring last season at 15.5 points and is doing so again this year at 12.0.

* Santa Clara has wins over UC Santa Cruz (109-51), San Jose State (89-81) and on the road at UC Davis (62-61).

* Bill Carr is in his fourth season as head coach of a program that has gone to six NCAA tournaments and six times advanced to the WNIT.

Montana coach Shannon Schweyen on Santa Clara: “They are very balanced and have some scores, particularly at Arizona, that make you go, Wow,” she said. “Arizona is not an easy place to go play, and they went toe-to-toe with them.

“They have good length and a really good point guard, and she’s surrounded by really good, solid players. They are solid at every spot and athletic.”

Montana-Santa Clara history:

* Montana is 3-0 against Santa Clara. The teams have not played since 2006.

* The Lady Griz won 66-65 in overtime at Santa Clara in 1985, and the teams played a home-and-home series in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

* In the former, Montana scored 46 second-half points to rally for an 82-77 victory at home, with Katie Edwards scoring 18 points, a total matched by Mandy Morales off the bench.

* Montana won 98-72 the next season at Santa Clara. The Lady Griz led 36-35 at the half then scored 62 second-half points. Mandy Morales, 18 for 18 at the line, scored 35 points in 32 minutes, 27 coming in the second half.

Notes on Cal State Fullerton:

* Picked last by the league coaches in the Big West preseason poll, the Titans are 4-2, with road wins at UNLV, Loyola Marymount and Grand Canyon.

* Throw in last week’s 83-62 home demolition of Utah State and CSUF goes into this week’s tournament having won four of five after dropping its season opener at Southern Utah.

* Leading the way is junior guard Raina Perez, the nation’s ninth-ranked scorer at 22.8 points per game. Perez played her freshman season at Northern Arizona before transferring.

* Perez, at just 5-foot-4, is averaging more than 22 points per game despite making just seven 3-pointers through six games and making 23 trips to the free throw line.

* Perez was one of six players voted to the preseason All-Big West team. She has scored 22 or more points in five straight games entering Friday’s contest against winless Delaware.

* CSUF has two other starters averaging in double figures as well, one a transfer from San Jose State.

* The Titans are coached by Jeff Harada, who is in his third year.

Montana coach Shannon Schweyen on Cal State Fullerton: “Raina Perez is someone we’re familiar with from her year at Northern Arizona. She’s putting up some big numbers.

“They don’t have the size of some of the teams we’ve been playing. They are heavy on their guard play.”

Montana-Cal State Fullerton history:

* Montana leads the series against Cal State Fullerton 6-1 but it 0-1 on the Titans’ home floor.

* The Lady Griz won the teams’ first five meetings, all in Missoula, the first of which came in 1983, by an average of more than 20 points per game.

* That included an 82-67 victory -- with the Lady Griz a No. 10 seed, the Titans a No. 7 -- in the opening round of the 1989 NCAA tournament.

* CSUF picked up its lone win in the series early in the 2016-17 season, Schweyen’s first year, 72-56. Taylor Goligoski led Montana with 17 points.

* Montana bounced back the next season with a 68-47 win at home in the Lady Griz Classic. Forty-four of Montana’s 68 points came from the bench, with Hailey Nicholson scoring 16 and grabbing nine rebounds.

Upcoming: Montana will play at Utah Valley on Saturday, Dec. 7. The Wolverines are 0-5 but have four losses by eight points or fewer, the other a 13-point setback.

Utah Valley lost 77-69 at Mountain West preseason favorite Boise State on Tuesday. It was a one-possession game midway through the fourth quarter.

The next week, on Sunday, Dec. 15, Montana will play at South Dakota, which is 5-1 and ranked third, behind Missouri State and Gonzaga, in this week’s ESPN mid-major poll.

Montana’s nonconference schedule comes to an end with a home game against MSU Billings on Friday, Dec. 20.

The Lady Griz will open their Big Sky schedule with road games at Northern Arizona and Sacramento State on Dec. 28 and 30.