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Montana ends Gonzaga’s 14-game home win streak

Eleven games into the season, Gonzaga women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves is no closer to finding an answer to what ails the Bulldogs than he was heading into the season.

“We don’t have playmakers,” Graves said. “When things struggle we don’t have anybody that can get a shot for you. Everything we get we have to manufacture.”

That was evident Sunday afternoon as Montana (7-2) handled the Bulldogs 72-60 before 1,724 fans at McCarthey Athletic Center, dropping GU’s record to 3-8.

Graves pointed to Grizzly freshman Mandy Morales, who had 15 points, four assists and four steals, and his point guard of the moment junior Katie Ridenour.

Ridenour is at least the fourth different point guard since Rachel Kane went down for the season with a knee injury less than a week before the season opener.

“We have a lot of people playing out of position, Katie Ridenour is playing point guard,” Graves said. “Katie is a great kid, a good player, but she’s not a point guard. When she has to make decisions and get us into something, organize something, that’s taking away from how she likes to play. She’s a kid that likes to run around and make things happen. She can’t do that now.

“If we go to someone else at the point, we lose at the other end and we’re not defending well. We haven’t found that combination we can rely on.”

Ridenour had a solid game with 15 points, three assists, three steals and just one turnover but she was limited to 22 minutes because of fouls and a minor injury. When she was out, the Bulldogs struggled to score and Morales and Grizzly wings took advantage. Dana Conway poured in a game-high 17 points with three 3-pointers, and Katie Edwards added 13.

Overall, the Grizzlies hit half of their shots, including 14 of 28 3’s against a team that has traditionally given them fits, turning the tables with a 12-point advantage at the foul line.

“One of the reasons is they have a good basketball team,” long-time Montana coach Robin Selvig said of past struggles. “I like the new arena, I’m glad we’re out of the old one.”

The loss was the first for a Gonzaga team in McCarthey and ended the women’s 14-game home streak.

“I thought defensively we did a pretty good job,” Selvig said. “They never got too much going. We did a pretty good job of not giving them easy shots. They did a nice job defensively on us, but we’ve got some kids that can make plays and we hit some outside shots. … They never got any runs, we were able to control the tempo.”

The Grizzlies surged ahead with a 10-0 run to close the first half, good for a 32-25 lead. Conway did most of the damage with seven points. The other damage came from the foul line, where the Grizzlies hit 14 of 15 while the Zags were just 1 of 2.

The Bulldogs kept the margin manageable by swapping baskets early in the second half, but with Conway hitting two 3’s and Edwards making back-to-back baskets the Grizzlies pushed the margin to 14 with an 11-2 run. A Ridenour 3 cut the deficit to eight with 9:26 left but a 9-3 surge closed the deal for Montana.

Forward Anne Bailey had 16 points and Ashley Anderson added 15 off the bench for the Zags, but the rest of Gonzaga’s front line was invisible.

“Very inconsistent,” Graves said of his forwards. “We just haven’t clicked at the same time. It comes back to playmakers.”

The Bulldogs have four more games to find a workable combination before West Coast Conference play starts.

“That has been a concern for the first 11 games and it will be for the next 19 games,” Graves said.

Montana 72, Gonzaga 60

Montana (7-1)—Conway 7-12 0-0 17, Morales 4-10 5-6 15, Edwards 3-11 6-7 13, Gale 5-7 0-0 10, Closson 1-4 6-6 8, McLeod 1-2 1-2 3, Rogers 1-2 0-0 3, cote 0-1 2-2 2, Lohman 0-1 1-3 1, Guardipee 0-2 0-0 0, Schmitz 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 22-52 21-26 72.

Gonzaga (3-8)—Bailey 6-11 3-4 16, Anderson 6-10 3-4 15, Ridenour 5-7 2-4 15, Hawk 2-5 1-2 5, Schramm 1-4 0-0 3, Laney 1-5 0-0 2, Bjorklund 1-6 0-1 2, Prichard 1-5 0-0 2, Santos 0-1 0-0 0, Renius 0-2 0-0 0, Hassett 0-1 0-0 0, Polishchuck 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 23-58 9-15 60.

Halftime–Montana 32, GU 25. 3-point goals–Montana 7-14 (Conway 3-5, Morales 2-3, Rogers 1-1, Edwards 1-5. GU 5-16 (Ridenour 3-4, Schramm 1-4, Bailey 1-2, Bjorklund 0-2, Prichard 0-2, Polishchuck 0-1, Hawk 0-1. Fouled out–none. Rebounds–Montana 38 (Closson 6), GU 38 (Bailey 6). Assists–Montana 13 (Morales, Edwards 4), GU 16 (Ridenour 3). Total fouls–Montana 14, GU 17. A–1,724.

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