MISSOULA — Thursday night, the Montana Lady Griz beat Portland State soundly, 93-57, in the first game of what is going to be a busy and eventful stretch for UM.
UM's game on Thursday was the first of five games the Lady Griz will play over a nine-day period. This comes due to games postponed because of COVID-19, so UM's original game with Montana State was moved to this coming Monday after being slated for Jan. 9.
The Lady Griz host Northern Arizona on Saturday, then head to Bozeman on Monday to play against the Bobcats, and then will play at Idaho and Eastern Washington next Thursday and Saturday.
It's a stark contrast to what the Lady Griz were experiencing in the two weeks leading up to this part of the schedule. Prior to Thursday's game, UM hadn't played a game since Jan. 6 because of the postponements.
"I think it felt great. We were all super hungry to come out and play someone different than each other and I think that showed when we got on the court (Thursday)," Lady Griz freshman Haley Huard said after Thursday's game. "It was just great, we all played really well as a team together and I think we got a lot better in those two weeks off that we had."
And it won't be the only time this season UM has a scheduled stretch like this.
UM has had two postponed games so far this year, so after they finish up this stretch, they'll do another five-game in nine days campaign in early February to make up for lost time. This comes after their Jan. 13 game against Southern Utah was moved to Feb. 7. So Feb. 3-12, UM will host Weber State (Feb. 3) and Idaho State (Feb. 5), then will be on the road at Southern Utah on Feb. 7, then at Northern Arizona on Feb. 10 and Portland State on Feb. 12.
For head coach Brian Holsinger and his staff, it's all about managing minutes and fatigue to help his players get through this compacted schedule both healthy while also looking for success.
"We're a very preparation-oriented team, and so these game after game after game is not the easiest thing for us just because we prepare a lot for each team we play and so how we respond to that, it's a balancing act," Holsinger said. "I'm trying to flexible with their legs, their minds in every way to make them be their best on gameday. So that's the whole goal as a staff and we'll do our best to do that."
Tip-off between Montana (11-4, 4-2 Big Sky Conference) and Northern Arizona (7-7, 4-2) is slated for 2 p.m. at Dahlberg Arena on Saturday.