The afternoon started slow and never really picked up for the Montana women's basketball team.
The Lady Griz saw their four-game win streak come to an end Saturday with a humbling 78-60 loss to Portland State at the new Viking Pavilion in Portland, Oregon. The Vikes sizzled early, racing to a 20-point lead in the first quarter behind 12-for-15 shooting from the floor.
The Lady Griz fell to 3-1 in Big Sky Conference play and 8-5 overall. They also lost their spot atop the league standings, with Northern Colorado (3-0, 8-4) taking over the top spot after an 86-72 win at Idaho.
The game was Montana's fourth in eight days and the team went to double-overtime at Sacramento State on Thursday. They appeared a step slow defensively in the first quarter.
"Whether or not we were a little flat from the double overtime I don't know, but we certainly were not ourselves today," Montana coach Shannon Schweyen told KMPT radio.
The Lady Griz started out in man defense and Portland State pounced, hitting 10 of 11 shots in building a 23-6 lead. Vikings senior guard Sidney Rielly hit her first four shots and her team enjoyed a 29-9 lead after one period.
"They were lighting it and credit to them, they came out ready to go today and we did not," Schweyen said. "We didn't have much of an answer for what they were doing to us.
" ... It was disappointing we didn't adjust better. They had a little bit of everything going — transition, their bigs were scoring. My bad for not going zone earlier. I thought that slowed them down a lot when we did. I kept thinking we'd pull our heads up but we didn't."
To Montana's credit, they outscored Portland State in the final three quarter, 51-49. But the Lady Griz were never able cut their deficit into single digits.
Rielly led all scorers with 19 points behind a 5-for-6 shooting effort from 3-point range. Senior teammate Courtney West was 7-for-7 from the floor in piling up 15 points.
Reserve forward Carmen Gfeller led the Lady Griz with 13 points. McKenzie Johnston scored 11 points and racked up four assists and senior post Jace Henderson finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
"Carmen gave us a little spark off the bench there," Schweyen said, alluding to the freshman's 6-for-9 shooting. "But it was tough to find somebody who felt like they had a hot hand today.
" ... Carmen had a great weekend I thought. And Jace (Henderson) did a nice job. We got some good inside-outside touches."
Montana trailed 50-30 at halftime in part because the Vikings shot 75 percent from the floor (21 for 28). Rielly was 4 for 5 from 3-point range and 6 for 7 overall. The Lady Griz were 10 for 32 from the floor.
Portland State cooled off in the second half, hitting 11 of 28 shots. But Montana build any momentum after hitting 6 of 22 shots to start the half.
Schweyen's whose team has tough home games this week against Eastern Washington Thursday and Northern Colorado Saturday, is hoping her team can learn from Saturday's experience.
"These games when they come out and absolutely blitz you, you're kind of at a loss," she said. "But I thought we competed well in the second half. Obviously if we're going to be a really good team we've got to respond better than that."