Same Destination, Different Journey

15 03 2011

Senior guard Stephanie Stender was named Conference Tournament MVP after averaging over 13 points and 7 rebounds a game.

March 15, 2011

Despite Montana’s rich history of NCAA appearances (18 coming into this season), much of this season didn’t look like another return was prominent for the ladies.

Sure they had some bright spots during the season.  The team rode the momentum from their upset over conference rival Montana State to a 6-game conference win streak during February.

By the season’s end however, their endeavors were not as successful.  The team dropped three of it’s final four conference games to close out the regular season, giving them a tough task as the #4 seed in the Big Sky Conference tournament.

But apparently nobody mentioned  anything about that difficulty to these girls… more likely they just didn’t care.  The team cruised past Idaho State 66-53, took care of Northern Colorado 55-46, and then held on in the championship 62-58 over #1 seed Portland State in Portland.

Reasons?

1. Head Coach Robin Selvig hasn’t won over 700 games by luck.

2. The freshmen (such as Lexie Nelson, Jordan Sullivan, and Torry Hill) have been surprisingly clutch and ready to play.

3.  Senior Stephanie Stender has been a consistent force for the team all season, and really took over some clutch/leadership roles in the conference tourney.

So what’s next? UCLA on Saturday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Spokane, WA.

The contest will follow the early game of Saturday’s two-game session between No. 6 Iowa (22-8) and No. 11 Gonzaga (28-4). The Hawkeyes and Bulldogs will play at 2 p.m. (MT).The first-round winners will meet Monday at 7:30 p.m. (MT) for the opportunity to advance to the round of 16.

Montana (18-14) is making its third appearance at the NCAA tournament in the last four years and the program’s 19th overall.

UCLA (27-4), one of the tournament’s at-large selections, lost to just two teams this season: LSU and Stanford.UCLA is making its second straight trip to the NCAA tournament and its 11th overall.

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