Kellie Cole scored 22 points and Jordan Sullivan added 21 and 10 rebounds as the Lady Griz topped the Washington State Cougars 90-78 Wednesday at Dahlberg Arena.
In a game where offense trumped defense, the Lady Griz never lost the lead in front of a raucous 2,125 fans.
“That was a confetti game,” head coach Robin Selvig said. “It was a great win for us.”
Montana (23-10) will face the winner of Thursday's matchup between Cal Poly and San Diego in the second round of the WNIT. Second round games will take place March 22-25.
Selvig said Cole did a good job stepping in for senior point guard Torry Hill, who injured her knee in the Big Sky Conference Championship game against the University of North Dakota on Saturday.
The Lady Griz were also without redshirt sophomore guard Haley Vining, and lost another starter, forward Carly Selvig, to a knee injury just five minutes into the game.
“It’s easy to get distracted, without Haley, without Torry, without Carly,” said Sullivan, who recorded her seventh career double-double. “The younger girls really stepped up and that’s really our only option.”
Montana made up for the injured players with 26 points off the bench. Sophomore guard McCalle Feller chipped in 13 points for the Lady Griz.
The Lady Griz opened the game with back-to-back 3-pointers from junior forward Maggie Rickman and Cole. A 17-8 run by Montana to start the game forced the Cougars to switch into man-to-man defense.
The Lady Griz entered halftime with a 36-25 lead over the Cougars.
Both teams came out shooting in the second half, scoring a combined 107 points. The Lady Griz scored 54 to Washington State’s 53, allowing a comfortable lead from the first half to carry over.
Freshman guard Kayleigh Valley came alive in the second half, scoring six straight for the Lady Griz with 11 minutes to play in the second half. Valley finished with 15 points and five rebounds.
Washington State sophomore guard Lia Galdeira, who led the Cougars with 22 points, cut Montana’s lead to nine with her only 3-pointer, with 10 minutes remaining to give some momentum for Washington State.
A play later, Valley sank another 3-pointer forcing a Washington State timeout.
“We really wanted to redeem ourselves after North Dakota, we wanted to show that we could beat a PAC-12 team,” said Cole, who had nine assists in the win.
Montana also beat the Cougars in rebounds, grabbing 48 to WSU’s 38.
“They’re big, but they really don’t play big,” Selvig said. “Our lack of depth in size didn’t really cost us.”
Montana won’t know if it hosts its next game until after Thursday’s game between Cal Poly and San Diego.
“I just don’t want this career to end, so hopefully we can come back,” Sullivan said. “That was fun.”