Cowgirls Lose to Lady Griz 79-72

Dec. 29, 2006

MISSOULA, Mont. -

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The Wyoming Cowgirl Basketball team (9-3 overall) wrapped up the 27th Lady Griz Holiday Classic in the title game with a seven point loss, 79-72, against the Montana Lady Griz (12-1 overall), on Friday night in Missoula.

"Against a team like this it really requires you to play at a very high level and for 40 minutes," said UW head coach Joe Legerski. "I thought that in the second half that we didn't do that for a couple of possessions. I give a great deal of credit to Montana. It seems like every time we made a run, Montana had an answer for us. I'm really happy with the effort of the team."

Justyna Podziemska led all scorers for the Cowgirls with 26. She was 11-18 from the field, 4-8 from beyond the arc and brought down six rebounds. Junior Hanna Zavecz recorded 22 points followed by Megan McGuffey with 11. Zavecz also contributed eight assists. Jodi Bolerjack and Podziemska led the way with six rebounds. As a team, they were 24-51 (.471) from the field and 16-21 (.762) from the free throw line.

Led by tournament MVP Mandy Morales, Montana won its own tournament for the 24th time in 27 tries, improving its all-time Holiday Classic record to 51-3.

Montana's Johanna Closson was joined on the all-tournament team by Wyoming's Podziemska and Zavecz.

Canisius's Brittane Russell and Idaho's Katie Madison rounded out the all-tournament team.

This was the second time in a month that the two teams have played. The last time the schools met was Nov. 30, 2006 when the Lady Griz defeated Cowgirls 70-59 in Missoula.

Morales paced Montana with 30 points and was followed by Closson with 12 points. Tamara Guardipee led the way with nine rebounds. The Lady Griz were 30-68 (.441) from the field and 11-14 (.786) from the free throw line.

Wyoming jumped out in the early minutes of the game as they took a 7-2 lead. Guardipee hit a basket to pull the Lady Griz to within three going in to the first media time out. The Cowgirls hit a free throw to make it 8-4, but Montana went on a 9-0 run to take their first lead of the game 13-8. Wyoming responded by scoring the next ten of twelve to regain an 18-15 advantage. The Lady Griz went a little cold going over three minutes without scoring until a Morales three-point goal ended that. Over the next several minutes the two teams played pretty evenly until the Cowgirls made a small 5-1 run to take their largest lead of the game 31-23. Montana responded with two straight baskets to make it 31-27 which was answered by a three-point play by Zavecz. The Cowgirls would end up taking a 36-31 lead in to the locker room.

At the mid-way point Zavecz led the way with 14 points followed by Podziemska with eight. Zavecz, Elisabeth Dissen and Bolerjack all had four rebounds. Wyoming shot 12-29 (.414) from the field and out rebounded the Lady Griz, 25-17. Morales also finished the half with 14 points, while Britney Lohman finished with five. Guardipee finished with six rebounds. Montana shot 12-34 (.353) from the field and 5-8 (.625) from the free throw line.

Montana started off well out of the half time break as they went on a 13-6 run to regain a two point lead, 44-42 with 15:03 left in the game. That lead would extend to ten, 52-42, as the Cowgirls really struggled on the offensive end as they went almost three minutes with out a basket. The drought was finally broken by a Zavecz three-point field goal, but the Lady Griz continued to lead. Wyoming continued to battle back as they went on an 8-2 run to pull within four, 57-53. Montana responded by scoring the next 12 of 19 to extend the lead to 69-60. The Cowgirls scored five straight to make it a four point game, 69-65, but a three point field goal by Closson ended that with four minutes remaining. The Cowgirls pulled to within four, 72-68, unfortunately that would be as close as they would get. The Lady Griz never relinquished the lead and won the game by a final of 79-72.

The Cowgirls will begin the Mountain West Conference season next week as they host the New Mexico Lobos. The game will be played on Thursday, Jan. 4, beginning at 7:00 p.m. in the Double A and can be seen on the Mtn. Sports Network.