Dec 7, 2012 6:21 AM by Q2 Sports
MSSOULA - The game lived up to its hype - right down to the wire.
Wyoming overcame Kenzie De Boer's career-high 29 points and improved to 6-1 with a 58-56 victory over Montana Thursday night at Dahlberg Arena in Missoula.
The Cowgirls never trailed in the first half and built a 10-point lead early in the second before the Lady Griz (5-3) began to claw their way back.
Junior Jordan Sullivan drilled a pair of threes less than two minutes apart, and De Boer converted a three-point play with 3:55 to go to give Montana its first and what would turn out to be its only lead of the game, 52-51.
Wyoming retook the lead on its next possession, never gave it back and survived a late turnover that gave De Boer a good look from 10 feet out that could have tied it with two seconds left.
"These close ones will drive you crazy, but it was a good basketball game, and we had a chance to win it," UM coach Robin Selvig said. "There were a lot of little ways we could have pulled this one out."
There were, but the accounting ledger always had the Cowgirls with the slight edge.
* Montana turned the ball over just six times and forced 20 turnovers. That along with five more offensive rebounds resulted in 20 more shots for the Lady Griz, but Wyoming shot 46.7 percent to Montana's 35.4 to offset the difference in scoring opportunities.
* The Lady Griz had De Boer's career scoring night, but the Cowgirls had better balance and kept senior Katie Baker, sophomore Kellie Cole and junior Torry Hill, Montana's No. 2, 3 and 4 scorers, without a single point between them on 0-for-17 shooting.
* Montana committed a season-low 10 fouls and only sent Wyoming to the line eight times, but the Cowgirls were perfect, and the Lady Griz went 4 for 9, including the missed front end of a one-and-one with 2:52 to play while trailing by a point.
There was all that, and Wyoming just made the bigger shots down the stretch. The Cowgirls turned the ball over 13 times in the second half and took just 20 shots, but they made 11 of them, none coming in a bigger spot than Kayla Woodward's three with 1:24 to go.
After Sullivan, who reached double-digit scoring for the third time in five games, hit a turnaround jumper in the lane to pull Montana within one, 55-54, Wyoming advanced the ball to half court and called a timeout.
Woodward received the ensuing inbounds pass with the shot clock at 20-plus seconds but still launched and hit a three that proved to be the game's decisive basket that made it 58-54.
Montana missed on a pair of threes on its next possession and then forced Wyoming, which was in no rush to take a shot with the clock under 30 seconds and holding a four-point lead, into a shot-clock violation with 17 seconds left.
Given another opportunity, Montana almost forced overtime. De Boer scored in the paint to bring the Lady Griz within 58-56 with nine seconds left.
Following a timeout, Selvig put his long-armed niece on the inbounds passer, and Carly Selvig's presence forced Wyoming's 20th turnover of the night.
The Cowgirls tried a lob pass over Selvig's outstretched arms, and Hill was there to play defensive back and knock the ball to the floor. The ensuing jump ball gave possession to Montana with six seconds still remaining.
The inbounds pass from right in front of the Lady Griz bench went to De Boer, and her slashing drive to the basket resulted in a pull-up 10 footer that bounced off the rim.
"We put Carly on the ball to try to bother them, and that forced them into a tough pass, and Torry got a piece of it," Selvig said.
"We got the ball into Kenzie's hands on the out-of-bounds, which tonight was probably the thing to do. She had a pretty good look going to the hole."
On a night that was forgettable for a number of players, De Boer was special. She had 14 points in the first half and 15 in the second to surpass her previous career high of 23, which she scored in her collegiate debut at Colorado State as a freshman.
And she scored it from all over the court. She had 10 points in the paint and went 4 for 6 from 3-point range to finish with more than half of Montana's points.
In the first half it was De Boer and sophomore Maggie Rickman keeping Montana close. Rickman went 3 for 3 in 11 minutes off the bench and blocked a pair of shots. Her six points plus De Boer's gave the pair 20 of the Lady Griz' 24 first-half points, and that allowed them to be down just two at the break, 26-24.
Sullivan scored all 10 of her points in the second half, giving her and De Boer 25 of Montana's 32 points over the final 20 minutes.
Noticeably missing from the scoring column were Baker and Hill, two starters who entered the game averaging nearly 20 points per game between them, and Cole, who was averaging 8.0 points off the bench.
And almost all their misses came on good looks within the structure of the offense, which only added to the frustration.
"We were getting good looks on their defense," Selvig said. "Torry had good looks. Katie had good looks. Kellie came off the bench and had good looks." The looks were there, but the scoreboard came up three points short.
Montana won't play again until hosting Denver (3-4) on Sunday, Dec. 16.