Montana Lady Griz drop conference tournament opener to Northern Arizona

Posted at 5:39 PM, Mar 08, 2022

BOISE, Idaho — Sophia Stiles picked up a double-double on 21 points and 10 rebounds but it wasn't enough as the Montana Lady Griz fell to Northern Arizona 75-57 in the quarterfinal round of the Big Sky Conference Tournament on Tuesday afternoon at Idaho Central Arena.

The Lady Griz, who entered the tournament with a bye as the No. 5 seed, were plagued by turnovers, coughing up the ball 22 times, leading to 26 NAU points. UM shot just 32.7% from the field. Montana went 3-for-13 from the 3-point line, while NAU hit 7-of-15 from deep. NAU's bench outscored Montana's 30-13.

Photos: Big Sky Tournament quarterfinal round for UM, MSU

Carmen Gfeller added 14 points for UM and Abby Anderson tallied nine points and 11 rebounds.

"Credit to Northern Arizona," UM coach Brian Holsinger said. "They outplayed us today in pretty much every way which is disappointing of course. It's a little surprising to me because I thought we were ready. I take responsibility for it, we weren't ready to play and they took it to us today in pretty much every way. One game never defines a season, it's a long season.

"Today, for sure disappointing, I expected us to play better in every way and we just didn't. I wish I could've done more as their coach to put them in a better position so we could have had a better outcome."

It's the second time in three years that the Lumberjacks have beaten the Lady Griz in the quarterfinal round. NAU, coached by Havre native Loree Payne, led by as much as 20 points in the fourth quarter en route to Tuesday's win.

"I'm super proud of the players," Payne said. "I think our team played, from start to finish, a solid 40 minutes. I think both teams struggled a little bit off the jump to score and it really came down to defense and then we got a little bit of flow with our transition offense which I think really helped us elevate to the victory. Proud of these two, we have a veteran squad and they played like it today and I'm just really proud of them and we're excited to be advancing."

Montana jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the first quarter but the shots stopped falling there. UM shot 3 for 17 from the field in the first quarter. Once NAU found its rhythm, the Lady Griz defense struggled to stop them. And when they could, UM couldn't find a basket on the offensive side.

The Lady Griz finished shooting 32.7% from the field and went 3 for 13 from deep.

The No. 4 seed Lumberjacks had four players reach double figures in scoring. Lauren Orndoff scored 18 points, while Khiarica Rasheed had 17 points and 10 rebounds. The Lumberjacks shot 41.9% from the field and went 7 for 15 from beyond the arc.

NAU advances to play No. 8 Northern Colorado after the Bears upset top-seeded Idaho State.

The Lady Griz finish the season 19-11 in Holsinger's first year at the helm.