MISSOULA, Mont. - The Lady Griz tied a program record Monday night by extending their season this late into the year; Montana also played a game on March 24 back in 1985, which was also in the Women's National Invite Tournament (WNIT).
The Lady Griz season did close Monday night with the team falling just a few points shy of advancing to the Sweet 16 after being defeated 60-57 by San Diego.
The Lady Griz entered battle Monday night without several key players as Torry Hill, Carly Selvig and Haley Vining were all out with knee injuries. And yet the younger players stepped up to the challenge as freshman and sophomore players accounted for almost half their points and over half their rebounds in the game.
"I think all the younger girls really showed up to play and that's all you can ask for," said sophomore guard Calle feller. "It's always hard to go in with different people on the floor. The chemistry is always a little different. Everything is a little different but I think we handled it really well."
While the Lady Griz were able to knock down enough shots, their Achilles heel was their inability to hold on to the ball against a pesky San Diego defense. Montana committed 21 turnovers, which was one less than their season high.
"Those guys are big and their good and that pressure is hard especially without our experienced guards," said senior forward Jordan Sullivan.
"We're usually a really good team and usually take care of it really well. That probably is a big reason why we lost," added Feller. "They're very athletic and I won't take anything away from them, they're very good at what they do."
"I hate losing anyway at anytime or any tournament," said Sullivan. "It stinks because we could have been back home I think, you know there was a chance to come back home and play."
"Yeah, close games are always hard to lose but honestly I'd rather lose a close game than get blown out any day," said Feller.
It was only the second loss at home for Montana all season. There were over 3,200 fans in attendance and it was easily the loudest crowd the Lady Griz have had this season.
"Our crowd was amazing; I couldn't even hear anything so it felt good to play under the crowd and in a tourney atmosphere after the season," said Feller.
"Got to come back which was so cool. And the crowd was amazing," said Sullivan. "Everybody came out and supported us like they always do. It was just such a blessing to be a part of."