Sophia Stiles achieved a new career-high in points for the second time in less than a month, and the Montana Lady Griz beat Sacramento State 59-53 in Sacramento, California on Friday evening in the regular-season finale.
Stiles poured in 29 points on 13-25 shooting. Stiles' mid-range jumper was tough to stop on Friday and the senior also went 1 for 2 from deep. She added six rebounds and three assists in the win. The 29 points break her previous career-high in scoring of 27 points which she set back on Feb. 17 in Missoula against Idaho.
Carmen Gfeller added 13 points for the Lady Griz (19-10, 12-8 Big Sky Conference) who also locked up a first-round bye at the Big Sky Conference Tournament next week in Boise, Idaho. The Lady Griz will finish in fifth place in the standings and will take on No. 4 seed Northern Arizona (15-13, 12-8) in the quarterfinal round on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
Montana held Sac State to 32.8% shooting on Friday evening and the Hornets went just 5 for 24 from deep. Meanwhile UM shot 43.9% from the field and 4 for 10 from beyond the arc.
UM also saw the return of Sammy Fatkin against the Hornets. The senior — one of UM's leading scorers — had missed nine games after suffering an ankle injury against Idaho State on Feb. 5. She played 11 minutes and scored three points on a deep ball and she also gathered two rebounds.
UM jumped out to a 10-2 lead behind eight quick points from Stiles but the Hornets found a groove and got back into the game. UM led 28-24 at half.
The teams went back-and-forth the rest of the game until Stiles' jumper became too much to handle as the senior knocked down back-to-back baskets to make it 56-50 UM with 1:49 left. UM got key stops down the stretch to prevent any comeback from the Hornets.
Haley Huard led UM with eight rebounds as the Lady Griz out-rebounded Sac State 38 to 37. Isnelle Natabou led Sac State with 25 points as the Hornets (14-15, 10-10) will enter the conference tournament as the No. 7 seed.