LadyGrizVArizonaGAMER

University of Montana junior guard Sammy Fatkin looks for a pass near mid-court during the second period of the Lady Griz's 77-42 loss to the University of Arizona on Nov. 24, 2019.

Freshman forward, Jamie Pickens, has only played college basketball for two months, but she contributed 14 points off the bench and helped the Lady Griz dominate Eastern Washington University 92-54 during the game on Jan. 9.

The Eastern Washington game was not short on teamwork, as five players recorded over 10 points each. Three of those players came off the bench.

“We rely on leadership from everyone. There is not one player, said Pickens. “Teamwork to us is huge.”

Pickens and the University of Montana women’s basketball team have rocketed to an impressive 4-1 start to Big Sky Conference play and sit at an 8-5 record for the season. Returning Senior McKenzie Johnston leads the team in points per game, as well as in minutes per game. Johnston, however does not have the weight of an entire team on her shoulders.

In additon to veteran players like Johnston, head coach Shannon Schweyen developed a deep roster that has stepped up to win games. Through Jan. 9, seven Lady Griz players averaged above seven points per game, and six players scored individual game-highs.

“We have a lot of good threats,” said senior guard Taylor Goligoski.

In the victory against Eastern Washington, Goligoski came off the bench to score a team-high 21 points. The effort was Gologoski’s third time leading the team in scoring through the first 14 games.

Though there is no number one player on the team, Goligoski noted that having that go-to player is not always an advantage.

“At any time, any night, someone can go off. People don’t know where our scoring is coming from night to night,” said Goligoski.

The Lady Griz haven’t won a Big Sky Championship or gone to the NCAA championship tournament since 2015. Head coach Shannon Schweyen has high hopes for 2020. She said she is confident in the current team’s strive to win. 

“They want to get this thing done. They are bound and determined to play hard and play together,” said Schweyen.

As of Jan. 9, the Lady Griz ranked No. 1 with Montana State University in the Big Sky Conference. Montana will continue conference play on the road against Idaho Jan. 18 and return to Missoula to play Idaho State Jan. 23.