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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Montana beats Montana State 75-66

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Over the course of the regular season, one result really doesn’t sit well with the Montana women’s basketball team.

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“We’re looking forward to redemption with Southern Utah,” Grizzlies guard Kellie Cole said.

Cole will get that chance tonight.

Montana beat Montana State for the third time this season in a 75-66 victory on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference tournament at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

Montana, the No. 3 seed, advances to face No. 2 Southern Utah at 7 p.m. tonight. No. 1 UND, which received a first-round bye, faces Idaho State.

Southern Utah beat Montana by 20 late in the regular season to split the regular season series.

“The ladies really wanted to play them well,” Montana coach Robin Selvig said. “We played so poorly last time, and they played so well. It’s really the only game all year that we weren’t in. (Southern Utah) is really impressive. They’re deep, athletic. They’re a good defensive team. There’s a reason they tied for first.”

The third meeting between the Montana rivals mimicked the previous two encounters in which the Griz built a big lead before holding off a late Bobcats surge.

Montana bolted to a 36-14 halftime lead. Montana State charged back with a 52-point effort in the second half.

“It was pretty obvious to the viewer that this was a tale of two halves,” Montana State coach Tricia Binford said. “We didn’t establish a great tempo and didn’t move the ball. In the second half, we did that. Coming from down 22, though, we expended a lot of effort and energy.”

The Bobcats pulled to within four in the second half, but the Griz pulled away thanks to a decisive advantage at the foul line (27-for-36 for Montana, 13-for-14 for MSU) and on the glass (46-33 in favor of the Griz).

Montana was led by Cole’s 20 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals. Torry Hill chipped in 16 points and reserve Kayleigh Valley had 10 points.

Montana State was led by three players in double figures. Kalli Durham finished with 16, while Jasmine Hommes battled foul trouble to end with 12 points and Ausha Cole also had 10 points.

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