Women fall to Montana 81-59

After beating Idaho State 93-80 last Saturday, the Vikings were limited to 59 points in an 81-59 setback at the Stott Center against Montana Thursday night.

The Vikings (7-10, 1-3 Big Sky) jumped on the Lady Grizzlies (14-3, 3-1 Big Sky) early, going up 16-12 off a driving Brianna Thompson lay-up. The Grizzlies went on a 10-0 run to lead 22-16 as the Viks reeled. After a Portland State rally, Montana would lead by nine at the half, 37-28.

Portland State was flat to start the second half, going down by 18 points with six minutes gone. The inside presence of Montana center Tamara Guardipee disrupted the Vikings attack. Guardipee ended up with 14 points and 10 blocks. She nearly missed a triple-double by grabbing nine boards.

Montana’s guards had their way with the Vikings. Mandy Morales and Katie Edwards combined for 38 points and 10 rebounds, leading the way for the Lady Grizz.

The Vikings were led by freshman Kelsey Kahle’s 18 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore center Briana Thompson had 12 points and nine boards on 6-17 shooting, battling hard inside with the much larger Guardipee.

Junior guard Heather Arns struggled from the floor after scoring a career-high 28 points against Idaho State one game ago. Arns went 4-14 from the floor, including 3-8 from three. She wasn’t the only Viking guard to struggle. Freshman Jenni Ritter shot 2-10 and point guards Sharon Wahinekapu and Kailey Bostwick each went 1-5.

Forward Delaney Conway had six points on 3-8 shooting but she failed to hit a three in four chances. Overall the Vikings shot 30 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three. They turned the ball over 15 times and grabbed 42 rebounds. Montana had 58 boards, including 20 offensive rebounds that led to 25 second-chance points.

Portland State allowed Montana to shoot 48 percent in the second half. The Vikings shot only 31 percent in the second stanza, an improvement over the 28 percent they shot in the first half.

“Somebody’s got to hit a shot and help out,” head coach Charity Elliott said. “You can’t expect to win games when you shoot like that.”

Elliott was disappointed with her team’s effort Thursday. The Vikings came out sluggish and despite an early lead it seemed as though their interest in the game waned at times. Absent, was the team’s trademark frenetic defense.

“I’m disappointed because I never want to get outworked,” she said. “Montana won the pace of the game by slowing it down.”

Elliott and Thompson, who gave up several inches and several pounds to the punishing Guardipee, weren’t ready to make excuses.

“We practiced all week,” Thompson said. “We just didn’t come out with effort and passion.”

The Vikings have another opportunity to show passion and energy as they take on hapless Montana State Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Stott Center.

“Saturday’s game is huge,” Elliott said. “It’s one where we can be successful.”