Montana's Carmen Gfeller named Big Sky Player of the Week

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Posted at 8:18 PM, Mar 01, 2022

(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)

MISSOULA — Montana junior Carmen Gfeller has been named the ROAR Organic Big Sky Conference Women’s Basketball Player of the Week, the league office announced Tuesday.

Gfeller averaged 20.5 points on 65.0 percent shooting as the Lady Griz knocked off Southern Utah and Montana State last week at Dahlberg Arena by a combined 39 points.

It was the third Player of the Week award this season for Gfeller, the first time that’s happened for a Montana player since Kayleigh Valley was honored three times in 2015-16.

Gfeller opened her week with a relatively quiet offensive outing in Montana’s 71-46 win over Southern Utah on Thursday.

She totaled seven points on 2-of-4 shooting, just the sixth time this season she hasn’t been in double figures.

On Saturday she had a game that will reside forever in Lady Griz lore.

It was made even more remarkable considering what happened in Bozeman in January, when Montana State won 73-59 to extend its winning streak over the Lady Griz to seven games.

Gfeller took just four shots in 34 minutes and was limited to five points, her lowest output of the season.

That Gfeller had just two points on 1-of-4 shooting at the end of the first quarter on Saturday night in Missoula was more a reflection of the game itself.

The teams combined to go 7 for 31 over the first 10 minutes, which ended with Montana holding a 9-8 lead.

The Lady Griz, sparked by a 15-point second quarter from Gfeller, would go 22 for 35 (.629) over the final three quarters to win 71-57, ending a three-game losing streak at home to Montana State.

“It was mostly a mindset change,” said Gfeller. “At Montana State they were super aggressive and I think that took me and the rest of the team by surprise.

“We had a different mindset playing at home. Coming into this game, I knew it would be important for me to be aggressive and when you have those open looks to take them.”

Over the final three quarters, Gfeller went 10 for 12 and hit all five of the 3-pointers she attempted.

She finished with 34 points, the most by a Lady Griz player since McCalle Feller put 34 on Florida Atlantic in 2015-16 at the Lady Griz Classic.

It was the 16th time in program history a player has reached 34 points, just the fifth time since 2000.

“I didn’t come in with the mindset that I was going to reach high numbers for scoring, but once you make a few, the basket just seems to expand,” said Gfeller. “You hit a few shots, you get on a roll.”

Of course, Gfeller was part of a collective effort on Saturday. Sophia Stiles and Abby Anderson, who made three baskets at Montana State, went 10 for 17 while combining for 10 assists.

“When Sophia’s aggressive and Abby is aggressive down in the post, when our shooters are knocking down shots, it just opens everything up for everyone else,” Gfeller said.

“When you get those open opportunities, you have to take them. It’s not too often you’re going to get those shots against a good team.”

Her 34 points were the second-most ever scored against Montana State by a Lady Griz player and they came in front of a season-high crowd of 4,059.

It was Montana’s largest non-school-day game since the 2015-16 season.

“I love the energy our fans bring. They are the best in the Big Sky. In the coming years, as our team continues to succeed, this place is only going to get louder,” said Gfeller.

Gfeller, whose 34 points were one off the season high by a Big Sky player this season, added eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks against Montana State.

The Lady Griz limited the Bobcats to 32.8 percent shooting. The 14-point loss was Montana State’s largest margin of defeat in a regular-season league game since the 2018-19 season.