Women's Basketball Falls in Championship Game
Dec. 29, 2003
MISSOULA, Mont. - The University of Montana went on a 16-2 run over the last 3:53 of the game to hand Memphis its second loss of the season, 74-56, in the championship game of the University of Montana Holiday Classic, Monday. The loss drops the Lady Tigers to 9-2 overall and helps improve Montana・s record to 9-2.
：I・m not really happy right now,； Head Coach Joye-Lee McNelis said. ：Even though we battled, we did not execute offensively. We had 12 turnovers at the half, that・s not being focused, not being ready to play.；
The Lady Tigers trailed 28-21at the half after struggling against the Lady Griz zone and shooting 20.8 percent in the opening 20 minutes. Junior Jennifer Sullivan led the Lady Tigers at the half with six points, but fortunately for the Lady Tigers, Montana shot just 33 percent on their own end of the floor and were outrebounded 25-19 by Memphis in the opening 20 minutes.
But coming out of the break, the Lady Griz were waiting for the Memphis full-court press. Montana scored eight of its 10 first points in the opening minutes off fast break points, with Hollie Tyler, who spent time on the bench in the first half after picking up her second foul, scored six of her 14 points in those opening minutes off the break.
But the Lady Tigers clawed their way back from what was a 12-point deficit at 40-28 with 15:06 remaining in the game by hitting four field goals from beyond the arc, three of them coming from freshman Devin Necaise and one from Tamika Butler. Necaise would finish with 12 points, after her career-best 17 last night, while Butler would finish with seven. Necaise・s third trey pulled Memphis to 42-37 with 12:15 remaining in the game before Amy Brooks and Juliann Keller converted four straight free-throws to stretch the lead back to nine. A pair of Lady Tiger layups from Jordie Soso and Raven Rogers and three free-throws from Rogers and Victoria Crawford narrowed the lead to six again before Montana pulled it back out to double-digits with seven straight converted free-throws.
Crawford then took over the Lady Tiger offense, scoring on three straight possessions, and scoring on layups in the lane against eventual tournament MVP Hollie Tyler to cut the Lady Griz lead to 58-54 with 3:53 remaining.
：We cut it to four then we took ill-advised shots. We were trying to set up Crawford against 50 (Tyler), and on our next possession, we shoot a 12-footer from the corner, that・s not what we・re looking for. There・s no way we got beat by 18 points, but they are a great basketball team.；
But Memphis was whistled for six fouls and committed four turnovers in the last four minutes of the game and the Lady Griz made the most out of their trips to the free-throw line, stretching what was a four-point lead into a 18 points lead when Denning scored a layup in the final four seconds of the game.
Crawford led the Lady Tigers with 13 points, with 11 of those coming in the second half after she was held without a converted bucket from the field in the opening 20 minutes. Necaise added 13 points, including 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc, adding three rebounds and one steal. Raven Rogers and Megan Gooch led the Lady Tiger rebounders with nine misfires apiece, while Crawford had eight.
Katie Edwards finished with 20 points in the championship game, while Tyler contributed a double-double of 14 points,11 rebounds, adding seven blocks in the Lady Griz・ fifth-straight home tournament title.
Memphis will continue their road swing at Arkansas, Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.