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Montana Lady Griz fall to Eastern Washington on the road

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Posted at 12:21 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 14:21:39-05

(Editor's note: University of Montana athletics press release)

Even from 200 miles away the disappointment came through loud and clear in first-year coach Brian Holsinger's voice after his team dropped a 63-57 decision to Eastern Washington in Cheney on Monday night.

"It's a soul-searching time for us," he said. "We're just not doing our job as coaches. It's my job to figure it out. I apologize to all of Griz Nation for that performance. It's unacceptable.

"I'm looking for answers myself. These kids are experienced. It's on us (as coaches). It's on me, actually. I'm failing them right now. I'm not doing my job. It's disappointing."

The Eagles (6-17, 4-10 BSC) scored the game's first seven points and never looked back. They led 32-18 at the half, 47-35 after three quarters and by 10 or more for most of the fourth before a late push by the Lady Griz (14-8, 7-6 BSC).

"We had a poor start again. I'm not getting through to them. They don't understand the urgency that they have to play with at the start of the game, and that's on me," Holsinger said.

Montana is now 5-6 since rolling into the Christmas break with a 9-2 record. The Lady Griz have played the last three games without Sammy Fatkin, who is out with an injury.

"We're not the same team we've been," Holsinger said. "Obviously we miss Sammy. It's killing us she's out and not playing. We're not the same team without her.

"But we're not playing right. We've got tons of defensive mistakes. We're having mental breakdowns, we're not rebounding. We're not doing the things we did earlier in the season to win games."

Facing a team it led 22-4 after the first quarter last month in Missoula, Montana shot 3 for 14 in the first 10 minutes, one game after opening 2 for 16 at Northern Arizona.

The Lady Griz would fight back and take the lead in Flagstaff. There would be no such comeback on Monday in Cheney. It was the first game all season Montana didn't hold a lead.

Montana got outrebounded for just the fourth time this season and only had two second-chance points, which offset a shooting percentage that was slightly better than Eastern Washington's.

Freshman guard Alexis Pettis led both teams with 18 points, while Jacinta Buckley added 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Carmen Gfeller led Montana with 16 points on uncharacteristic 6-of-15 shooting. Sophia Stiles added 12 points and had an uncharacteristic number herself, four turnovers, four of 17 for the Lady Griz, the most they've had in a game in 2022.

It was a night of uncharacteristic, thus the frustration.

"That team is not better than us by any means," said Holsinger. "Today they were. I didn't have the kids ready to play. That's it. There are no excuses.

"I'm looking for answers. This is as disappointed as I've been since I can't remember when. We'll go back to work and figure out how to be better."

Montana will host Idaho (6-15, 5-7 BSC) on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Missoula.