Women’s Basketball Drops Defensive Struggle at Montana, 60-48
MISSOULA, Mont. – NAU held Montana to just 37% shooting for the game, but the Lumberjacks shot 33% and went 2-of-15 from three-point range in a 60-48 loss on Thursday night in Missoula. The Lumberjacks moved to 0-5 in the Big Sky and 5-12 overall while the Grizzlies improved to 9-7 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
"We forced some shots and defensively we gave up 17 offensive rebounds which really hurt us," said head coach Laurie Kelly. "We made defense a priority and got a lot of good looks for our posts who played well, but in the end it came down to our inability to make shots outside of the paint. We've been coming out of the gates slowly the last few games, and it's really hard to come back from that on the road."
Montana entered the game as the lowest scoring team in the conference but also the best defensive team, and the tempo was set by the home team early. After opening up an 11-3 lead, Montana saw its lead cut to two after a 6-0 Lumberjack run. Montana responded with a 7-0 run of its own to build an 18-9 lead with 10:43 remaining in the opening half, and its lead would grow to 13 with four minutes to play and end at 32-19 to close the opening half.
After the Grizzly lead moved to 14 points early in the second half, NAU responded with an impressive 17-4 run over a seven and a half minute stretch, culminated by a three-point make by junior Amy Patton, to get within one point at 39-38 with eight minutes to play. The Lumberjacks would go cold from there, going scoreless for more than five and a half minutes as Montana went on an 11-0 spurt to open up a 50-38 advantage with 2:28 remaining in the game. NAU would get within eight points in the final minutes, but Montana made 6-of-6 free throws down the stretch to finish a 60-48 victory.
The Lumberjacks .333 field goal percentage was their second lowest of the season, and their two three-point makes were the second fewest of the year as well. NAU did have another superb night at the free throw line, however, making 12-of-13 attempts in the contest. Montana held a slight 38-36 rebounding edge and forced 21 turnovers while committing 16. After entering the game ranked 19th in the country with 12.5 steals per game, NAU was held to a season-low seven steals on Thursday.
Patton finished with 10 points, nine rebounds and two steals, a stat line matched by sophomore Shay May, who made 5-of-7 field goal attempts. Sophomore Trinidee Trice added eight points and four rebounds, and senior Katie Pratt scored five points and went 2-of-2 from the field in her first game action since suffering an injury at Iowa State on Nov. 20. Montana junior Katie Baker led all players with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
NAU will face Montana State at 2:05 p.m. Saturday in Bozeman.