Vandals win 9th straight, beating Montana 67-56 - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Vandals win 9th straight, beating Montana 67-56

Photo: Idaho Athletics Photo: Idaho Athletics

By Idaho Athletics

MISSOULA, Mont.—Idaho women's basketball continued to roll, winning its ninth consecutive game on Saturday. The Vandals bested Montana 67-56 in front of 3,353 loyal Griz fans inside Dahlberg Arena.

Idaho's big three of Mikayla Ferenz, Taylor Pierce and Geraldine McCorkell provided the offensive spark for the Vandals. They combined for all but four of Idaho's points. Ferenz led the pack with 24 points. McCorkell and Pierce added 20 and 19, respectively.

Pierce and Ferenz continued to set milestones. Pierce hit five 3's in the first half to set a new Big Sky record for single-season 3's with 99. Ferenz then passed Pierce, hitting six on the afternoon to reach 100 on the season. The previous mark was 95 set by Weber State's Kailie Quinn in 2016.

How it Happened
Idaho (15-10, 11-3) opened the game with a 10-0 run and frustrating the Montana shooters on defense. Montana was held off the scoreboard for the first 6:40, shooting 0-for-7 from the field. The Vandals built up a 17-2 lead in the quarter, holding Montana to five total points in the period.

The Silver and Gold kept on the gas in the second, shooting 58.3 percent (7-12) in the quarter. The Vandal lead twice hit 19 in the second. Pierce went 4-for-5 from the floor and hit three of Idaho's five triples in the quarter. Ferenz closed the half with a 3 at the buzzer, putting Idaho up 41-22 at the break.

Montana (12-14, 8-7) clawed its way back into the game in the second half. The Lady Griz outscored Idaho 16-6 in the third quarter, narrowing the gap to nine. McCorkell was the lone Vandal to get to the basket, scoring all six of Idaho's third-quarter points.

Idaho's offensive struggles continued in the fourth, allowing Montana get within four points, 52-48, with just over five minutes remaining. The Vandals looked to their top-scorer in the clutch and she did not disappoint. Ferenz scored 15 points in the final quarter, including a pair of back-to-back 3's to put Idaho back up by 10, 58-48, with 4:19 to play.

Keys
The Vandal's early offense and the staunch defensive effort was the difference on Saturday. Idaho's ability to shut down Montana in the first quarter paid major dividends when the Lady Griz were pushing down the stretch.

Quotes
Head Coach Jon Newlee

On holding off Montana
"McKenzie Johnston came in after sitting out most of the first half and really had a great game. She is capable of knocking down that jump shot. She was taking advantage of us for a while. I thought when we shifted Mikayla over to her it kind of changed things a little bit.

"We held our composure. That is what I told them in the locker room. In this type of environment—it got ugly for us. They got a lot more physical with us in the second half and it was working. We really bowed up in the last five minutes and had some great stops."

On the first quarter
"We got out to a great start. Defensively, we were doing what we wanted to do. We kept them out of the paint and off the free-throw line. We got out in transition and ran. That was a big factor. We stopped running [in the second half]. That is not our game. We love to play in transition."

Notes
Idaho's 11 conference wins matches its total from last season...Idaho's win completes the road sweep of the Montana schools. Idaho had now beaten both schools in the same season since 1984-85…Idaho has now won its last four against Montana…Montana's 56 points were the second-fewest allowed by Idaho this season…Ferenz recorded her 16th 20-point game of the season…McCorkell recorded her 11th 20-point game of the season…Nejra Solo tied her career-high with 11 rebounds.

Upcoming
Idaho will play its final two home games of the season next week. Idaho State comes to town on Thursday followed by Weber State on Saturday. Saturday's game will be the team's Senior Day. Both games will be at Memorial Gym.

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