UMW News Bureau
The University of Montana Western women’s basketball team traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah to play the Westminster Griffins in a semi-finals game on Friday, March 1. The Griffins, who are currently the number three team in the nation and the number one seed in conference play, went into the game with a 14-1 conference record with their only loss coming from Carroll College.
Montana Western came out with the hot hand in the first half, shooting only 32 percent from the field but 37 percent from three-point range and 75 percent from the free throw line. Defensively, the Bulldogs held the Griffins to 36 percent from the field, 23 percent from the three-point line and did not allow the Griffins to shoot a single free throw in the first half. Brittney Leibenguth caught fire in the first half, hitting three of four three-point attempts. The Bulldogs went into half time up one, 21-20, led by Leibenguth’s nine points.
The second half was a different story for the Bulldogs. Westminster came out in the second half with an 8-0 run and with eight minutes left the Griffins had pushed the lead to 18 points. With three minutes left, the lead was up to 26. Westminster ended up winning the contest by 25 with a score of 64-39.
Senior Brittney Leibenguth led the team with 12 points, making four of six three-pointers on the night. Juniors Sammi Bignell and Roxy Thurman both added six points to the team total. Kaci Matthies led in the rebounding column with five.
“We did not do a good job matching their physicality and toughness in the second half,” head coach Lindsay Woolley explained. “I am not sure I have ever witnessed a team that only grabbed two defensive rebounds in one half of basketball. Westminster attacked us off the dribble and we had a difficult time keeping them in front of us, and our rotations were a step slow. Once they pushed the lead out to double digits it was tough for us to control tempo the way we wanted.”
Montana Western ended the season with a 7-9 conference record, and an overall record of 16-16.
The University of Montana Western has launched a national search for the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs position.