MISSOULA — After a late-game thriller on Thursday, the Montana Lady Griz flipped the script and blew past Portland State 88-56 on Saturday in Dahlberg Arena as the school participated in its first Nike N7 showcase in honor of Native American heritage.
Featuring Native American songs and dances before the game and at halftime coupled with the presentation of every tribal flag in Montana, UM honored former Native American Lady Griz basketball players Malia Kipp, Tamara Guardipee, Simarron Schildt and LeAnn Montes as well as former UM coach Robin Selvig in front of 3,062 fans.
"Honestly, it's incredible. It's such a blessing to be a part of something that's bigger that creates and has more meaning being part of a legacy like this," UM senior guard Sammy Fatkin said. "Just wearing a jersey from the color to the crowd to everything that it means to Robin and everything that we're representing, to be able to be the players out there wearing the jersey, it means something special and it carries a little bit more weight."
In the game itself, UM (11-10, 6-4 Big Sky Conference) donned the new turquoise jerseys, and ran away from the Vikings quickly in the game. Carmen Gfeller scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds, Dani Bartsch added 14 points and 10 rebounds while Fatkin added 13 points, six rebounds and five assists and Mack Konig tallied 10 points.
UM shot 46.8% from the field and 13 for 26 from deep in the game. Konig and Gina Marxen each had six assists. UM held PSU (9-10, 4-5) to just 34.5% shooting.
"This weekend felt good. We've been training the right way all season and we just talked about executing the right way and keeping the course," Fatkin said. "Today, mainly just talked about keeping a consistent mentality and leveling up and not being satisfied and keep pushing forward and that's what we'll keep doing."
In the first half UM started fast, and shot 53.3% from the field and went 9 for 13 from deep as they built a 52-30 lead by halftime. The game was back-and-forth in the first quarter, but UM's defense settled down the rest of the way while offensively they were able to break Portland State's zone with relative ease.
"I was hoping the other night would propel us forward and it did," UM head coach Brian Holsinger said. "We're starting to play better basketball is the bottom line. We've had success against (Portland State) the last two years but they've played everybody really tough. They've been right in games all around so I'm trying to tell my team this wasn't an easy win, this is a good team. For us, just trying to play right."
The Lady Griz out-rebounded the Vikings 43 to 29 and forced 11 turnovers. Haley Huard and Keeli Burton-Oliver each added nine points. Missoula native and Hellgate grad Lauren Dick, a freshman walk-on, also entered the game for just the second time this season, and scored her first points of her college career as the bench went crazy in the final seconds.
After a tough showing in the previous week, the two-game sweep over the weekend was a jolt for UM.
"Gigantic. We have two games at home, you have to find a way to win at home," Holsinger said. "For us, it's just continuing to get better. We have to go on the road and we've played well on the road so I'm excited to see how we respond next weekend."