Weber State hit 10 3-pointers and shot 45.6 percent overall as the Wildcats picked up their first Big Sky Conference victory of the season, defeating Montana 74-58 on Saturday afternoon at the Dee Events Center in Ogden, Utah.
Montana (3-10, 0-2 BSC), which lost 61-43 at Idaho State on Thursday night, lost both ends of the ISU-WSU road trip for the first time in program history.
The Lady Griz have lost four straight games and their last eight against Division I opponents.
The Wildcats (7-6, 1-1 BSC) jumped out to a 10-point first-quarter lead and led the final 37 minutes of the game to defeat the Lady Griz for just the third time in the teams’ last 19 meetings and for just the eighth time in 36 matchups in Ogden.
Weber State plays an up-tempo style that leads not so much to transition baskets as it does to open looks early in the shot clock against teams that are not sound defensively.
The Wildcats connected on three 3-pointers against the Lady Griz in the game’s first five and a half minutes. All were uncontested as Montana was forced to scramble on the defensive end.
“The No. 1 thing on our board for getting a win was to take away their transition,” said coach Shannon Schweyen. “They like to push the ball, so that was definitely a point of focus tonight.
“It was a little disappointing. We could have done a better job on that. Our girls weren’t sprinting back like we talked about. They came down and found shooters for threes, and those hurt. You want to have a chance to get back and defend.”
Montana fell behind 17-7 but was able to fight its way back to within 18-14 by the end of the quarter.
A pair of free throws by Emma Stockholm pulled the Lady Griz to within two, 18-16 early in the second quarter. That’s when Kailie Quinn, who scored a game-high 19 points, put her stamp on the game.
She scored 12 of the Wildcats’ points in a 14-0 run that made it 32-16.
With a spark from Hailey Nicholson, who scored seven first-half points off the bench, Montana cut its deficit to 37-28 at the half.
A pair of 3-pointers from Yarden Danan put Weber State up by a comfortable margin early in the third quarter, and five quick points by Quinn late in the period gave the Wildcats a 19-point lead, 57-38, their largest of the game.
Montana outscored Weber State 18-17 in the fourth quarter, but by that time the outcome had been decided.
The Lady Griz shot 32.8 percent and haven’t been better than 34 percent in any of their eight straight losses against Division I competition.
“The second half we did a better job, but we dug ourselves a pretty decent hole by then,” said Schweyen. “It’s just been the story of our lives lately. We’ve been running our offense okay, getting the ball around the basket, but it’s just not going down.”
Montana was even with Weber State on the boards 39-39 and grabbed 16 offensive rebounds, but those only led to 15 second-chance points.
“We didn’t turn many of those into baskets. We’re just panic when we get it, and that’s part of our immaturity,” said Schweyen.
“They’ve got to think score when they board those at two feet, instead of kicking it out and panicking. They have to learn to relax, gather and go up strong.”
Montana went 1 for 10 from the arc, two days after going 0 for 10. Over the last four games, the Lady Griz are 6 for 50 from 3-point range. The Wildcats hit six threes in the first half on Saturday.
“That hurts you. All of ours come out of offense and turning the ball. They were good looks,” said Schweyen.
Sierra Anderson and the mask that protects her nose started but could only play 14 minutes. That forced McKenzie Johnston to play 30 minutes off the bench. She had three assists, three steals and six rebounds.
“Sierra tried to be out there as best she could. Not having her available for more minutes hurt us. We made some tired mistakes down the stretch,” said Schweyen.
Montana will host Idaho (5-7, 0-1 BSC) and Eastern Washington (6-6, 1-0 BSC) next week. The Eagles used a 28-3 run spanning the second and third quarters to pull away from the Vandals and win 67-57 at Cheney on Saturday in the league opener for both teams.
In other Big Sky games on Saturday, Northern Colorado, 91-62 over Portland State, North Dakota, 94-71 over Sacramento State, and Idaho State, 67-59 over Montana State, all picked up home wins and sit atop the league standings at 2-0.
In the other league game on Saturday, Northern Arizona won 77-68 in overtime at Southern Utah.