Thanks to a solid shooting performance, the Montana Lady Griz were able to defeat the North Dakota Fighting Hawks 89-72 on Dec. 7. The game was played in a mostly empty Dahlberg Arena. No artificial crowd noise was used.
“It was so weird,” UM head coach Mike Petrino said regarding the game’s environment. “It was surreal.”
UM made 49% of its shots while North Dakota only converted on 40% of its attempts.
Both teams have interim head coaches for the 2020 season. UM stuck with the same starters that it used in its season opener against Utah State.
Junior guard Sophia Stiles helped UM jump to an early 10-6 lead thanks to some transition layups. North Dakota was the team that Stiles suffered a season ending knee injury against in 2018.
Stiles finished the game with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Sophomore forward Carmen Gfeller helped UM hold onto a 22-20 lead in the second quarter thanks to some turnaround jump shots in the post. She led UM in scoring in its opener with 21 points. Against North Dakota, she had a game-high 27 points.
“This is home court,” Gfeller said. “We’re gonna win as many games as we can here.”
Petrino had high praise for Gfeller postgame, saying that she “has a great work ethic.”
Some of Gfeller’s shots helped fuel a 13-2 run against the Fighting Hawks into halftime, where the Lady Griz led 38-28.
UM got into a hot start in the second half, making back-to-back 3-pointers and taking a 44-30 lead. The second 3-pointer was made by Three Rivers College transfer Hannah Thurmon, who is a junior.
Thurmon scored nine points and added eight rebounds.
Sophomore guard Jordyn Schweyen, who hasn’t played for UM since the 2018-19 season, also made a 3-pointer to extend UM’s lead to 53-38.
By the end of the third quarter, UM still held onto a 61-52 lead. This lead was comfortable, but it didn’t guarantee a win. The Lady Griz lost to Utah State after leading 39-26 at one point.
North Dakota senior forward Julia Fleecs helped propel North Dakota back into the game with a few shots early in the fourth quarter. At one point, UM only led by six. Fleecs had a team high 23 points in the game.
The combo of Stiles and Gfeller proved to be too much for North Dakota when they both added some crucial points in the fourth quarter. The duo combined for 48 and the Lady Griz won, 86-72.
The win evened UM’s record to 1-1 while North Dakota dropped to 0-3.
UM’s next game is Dec. 13 at Gonzaga.