A young Idaho State women’s basketball team did a lot of growing up Thursday night, going into Dahlberg Arena and beating Montana, 67-53, for the program’s first away win over the Lady Griz since Jan. 7, 2012 — and the fourth in program history.
“Obviously, it’s a big deal,” Idaho State head coach Seton Sobolewski said on the postgame radio show. “They stuck with it in a tough environment, in a tough game.”
It was Sobolewski’s second win in Missoula, Montana, in his 12 years of coaching at ISU, and it was a struggle despite the double-digit final margin.
Idaho State (8-9, 4-4 Big Sky Conference) trailed by one at halftime, 34-33, after a first half in which there were 16 lead changes and neither team led by more than four at any point.
ISU gained a little separation at the end of the third quarter when Callie Bourne — after being 0 for 3 from deep to that point — banked in a 3 before Diaba Konate chased down an errant inbounds pass by Montana (9-8, 4-4) and fed Tomekia Whitman for a wide-open layup on the break.
That 5-0 run gave ISU a a 44-40 lead with two minutes, 22 seconds left in the third.
With the lead still at four points going to the fourth, Montana Oltrogge took over for the Bengals.
The sophomore sharpshooter hit a corner 3 to open the quarter, then nailed back-to-back jumpers on the same designed play in which she started under the basket and zoomed to the top of the key to take a handoff before firing.
Oltrogge led all scorers with 18 points in 20 minutes. She had 10 in the fourth quarter.
“She got some great looks and she made them,” Sobolewski said. “That was the momentum changer, her hitting those back-to-back shots.”
The Lady Griz hung around after that, but Idaho State had an answer for everything.
Oltrogge and then Konate had offensive rebounds and second-chance layups on back-to-back possessions before Delaney Moore made a short jumper to push ISU’s lead into double digits for the first time at 61-51 with 2:04 to go.
Montana made two free throws on the ensuing possession to keep a slim ray of hope alive, but Konate went to the highlight reels to finish it, easily breaking UM’s press before turning the corner and tossing in a circus and-1 layup with the shot clock winding down and Montana defenders pulling on her arms.
“Late in the game, they had to expand their defense a little bit, and that opened up some gaps for Diaba,” ISU assistant coach Ryan Johnson said. “She thrives in those situations, because she’s so quick. She made some pretty special shots late there.”
Konate finished with 15 points and a career-high-tying seven rebounds. Bourne had 14 and seven for the Bengals.
Idaho State held the Lady Griz to 4 for 23 shooting (17.4%) from the field in the second half, setting the stage for the historic win.
“That’s a heck of a thing to be able to do,” Johnson said. “(Montana is) usually a very confident shooting team at home. ... They can really hurt you with a lot of different people, so to be able to shut that down was a really big thing today.”
Idaho State finishes its road trip Saturday, playing at conference leader Montana State at 2 p.m.
IDAHO STATE 67, MONTANA 53
Idaho State 15 18 13 21 — 67
Montana 17 17 8 11 — 53
Idaho State — Whitman 8, Bourne 14, Smith 2, Konate 15, Moore 7, Sweeney 3, Oltrogge 18.
Montana — Stiles 6, Anderson 4, Johnston 11, Schoening 6, Stockholm 10, Harrington 10, Pickens 6.