MISSOULA — Five players scored in double figures and the Montana Lady Griz erased a 14-point deficit to top Sacramento State 81-77 on Thursday evening at Dahlberg Arena.
The win snapped a two-game losing skid for the Lady Griz (9-11, 5-4 Big Sky) as they topped the Hornets (15-4, 6-2), who were atop the league standings entering the game.
Freshman Mack Konig was inserted into the starting lineup and finished the game leading UM with 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting and dished out six assists. Sophomore Dani Bartsch also was added into the starting lineup on Thursday — the duo joining mainstays Carmen Gfeller, Sammy Fatkin and Gina Marxen — and Bartsch finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
Gfeller added 12 points, Marxen scored 11 and Libby Stump tallied 10 off of the bench.
"Our team showed grit and perseverance completely," Bartsch said. "Sammy stepped up huge on the defensive end and gave us great energy and there's no way we would've come back without her. Anyone who played, our bench was amazing, everyone on the floor stepped up big time and that win is a whole team effort for sure."
The Lady Griz came out firing and led 29-18 at the end of the first quarter. But the Hornets responded quickly as they found their groove from three and they flipped the game into a 47-38 advantage for them at the break.
The Hornets didn't let up and built it to a 63-49 lead on UM with 2:53 left in the third quarter.
But in the fourth quarter, the Lady Griz began to chip away thanks in large part to an effective full-court press that began to wear Sac State down. They also did it without Gfeller who fouled out early in the quarter.
After free throws from Fatkin and a 3-pointer by Konig, layup by Keeli Burton-Oliver made it 69-64 with 6:20 left in the game.
Fatkin would get a steal on an inbounds pass and find Bartsch for a layup to make it 72-67 at the 5:27 mark. Then after two scoreless minutes, Fatkin buried a transition 3-pointer, and like deja vu got another inbounds steal and found Bartsch for a layup as UM tied the game with 3:05 to go.
"Sammy was just anticipating like crazy," Bartsch said. "They were trying to go long ball or short and she was reading the ball super well. Her IQ is insane, off the charts."
Sac State responded with a triple, but so did Bartsch to tie it again. Then down two, Marxen found her way to the rim and scored and drew a foul. Her free throw gave UM it's first lead since the second quarter, 78-77, with 45 seconds to play.
Marxen would knock down three free throws down the stretch as the Lady Griz completed the comeback to win the game.
"I'm just really proud because the morale was down this week. It was down," UM coach Brian Holsinger said. "We have to believe, before you even walk out on the floor. For our kids to respond from adversity like that after getting smacked around a little bit. We hadn't played well is the biggest part of it. And they started to believe, you could feel it, the crowd started to feel it, Dahlberg started getting electric, and that's what it should be here.
"(Carmen's) leadership on the bench was big time and that's hard to do. And Sammy and Dani's defensive presence was priceless out there."
UM shot 50% for the game and 10 for 23 from deep. Defensively they picked up seven steals, four of which came from Fatkin. Sac State shot 47.4% from the field and 13 for 30 from deep.
The Lady Griz host Portland State (9-9, 4-4) at 2 p.m. on Saturday.