Broncos Survive Late Griz Attack

On Thursday night in front of a crowd of 903 fans including some Montana Grizzly alumni from Lansing, Michigan the Broncos survived a late run by the Lady Griz to come away with a 76-64 win at University Arena. The Broncos (6-4, 0-0 MAC) tied that game at 4-4 early on and never looked back.

The Lady Griz (8-3, 0-0 Big Sky) however made a late run to pull to within one at 61-60. But after Casey Rost hit one of her two free throws, Lori Crisman added two free throws of her own and a basket by Rost gave the Broncos a 66-60 lead. Casey then added a little excitement that brought the fans to their feet. With 4:17 left on the game clock and one second left on the shot clock Casey drained a shot from behind the three-point line to give the Broncos a 69-60 lead.

"I thought that Casey hitting that shot that's something Casey does all the time in practice so we expect it to go in," Coach Ron Stewart said of Casey's 3-point basket. "But with one second it was kind of a back breaker for them." Casey added, "as soon as I hit that shot with one second left on the shot clock I could feel the adrenaline rush and I just started playing a lot harder because I didn't what to have to lose this game."

The Broncos got on the board first when Lori Crisman converted a lay-up but shortly afterward the Broncos found themselves down 2-4. After field goals by Curleta Harris and Kristin Koetsier the Broncos regained the lead, a lead they would never relinquish. Throughout much of the first half of the ball game it was a battle between Harris and Montana's Jill Henkel. Harris ended up the first half with 13 points but Henkel matched her shot for shot to finish the half with 13.

Harris' efforts did not go unnoticed, "I thought that we got off to just an excellent start and I thought Curleta Harris had a lot to do with the way that we got off the start of this game." Coach Stewart continued, "you look at the statistics and your going to say Kristin scored, Casey hit a big three late and so on and so forth. But I don't think anyone had anymore focus than Curleta did at the start of the ball game. I mean her play, her shots from out, her play and her defensive work I thought she got us off to a great start."

However, Koetsier led all scorers in the first half with 14 points, she also was 3-4 from the free throw line. The Broncos held the advantage in the first half in total field goal percentage (.630 to .394) and free throw percentage (.778 to .000). Of course the Broncos were only called for one personal foul in the half to Montana's seven personal fouls. Both teams shot .500 from behind the three-point line.

Trailing 46-31 at the half the Lady Griz was either going to come out and turn it into a game with most people expected or they were going to head home according to Coach Robin Selvig. "It's tough to get help of course when the big girl, especially when they started out lighting it on the perimeter." Coach Selvig continued, "we don't generally feel like we are going to give up forty-six points in a half. Either we are going to tie them up in the second half and come out and get after it or go home. Well, we got after it anyway so it wasn't too bad."

The Griz did come out and get after it. But it took them 13:32 to pull to within one point. According to Coach Selvig, "We spent a little too much energy getting back and not enough for getting it back to one because we seemed to run out of gas after we caught them."

The play of the game that best describes the spirit of this season's Broncos women's basketball team came on a turnover. With 2:25 left in the game, Rost manage to knock the ball out of Brooklynn Lorenzen's hands. With the ball rolling towards the media table Rost hustled to prevent the ball from rolling out of bounds and managed to convert a lay-up on the play. Coach Stewart said, "she didn't quit on that. A lot of people would have let that roll out of bounds. Absolutely, that was over there by you but I thought the ball was going to go out of bounds and she took off and got it and she's got a great feel for things."

Meanwhile, Koetsier quietly led all scorers with 27. She went 10-19 from the field, 1-2 from 3-point range and 6-7 from the free throw line. Montana's Hollie Tyler finished with a double double (16 points and 12 rebounds). Tyler's 12 rebounds were a game high. Henkel set a personal career high with 20 points. For the Broncos, Maria Jilian remains a solid leader on and off the court. Jilian ended up playing all forty minutes and had a game high of four steals.

For the game the Broncos held the advantage in total field goal percentage (.509 to .458) and 3-point field goal percentage (.462 to .444). However, the Lady Griz was perfect from the free throw line (2-2) compared to the Broncos (14-21).

The next game for the Broncos is on Wednesday, January 8th against Kent State (3-6, 0-0 MAC). Kent State is at St. Peter's on Saturday.

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