MISSOULA – Arizona started fast and never looked back as the Wildcats dominated the Montana Lady Griz, 100-51, on Wednesday at McKale Center in Tucson.
Arizona redshirt sophomore guard Aari McDonald, who came into the game as the nation’s second-leading scorer, dropped 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting and grabbed six rebounds. Five Wildcats scored in double figures as freshman Cate Reese added 20 points and 18 rebounds while fellow freshman Semaj Smith scored 13, sophomore Sam Thomas added 12 and redshirt junior Dominique McBryde scored 11.
Arizona (7-1) jumped all over UM to start the game, leading 24-9 at the end of the first quarter. The Wildcats went on a 13-1 run to end the first period.
Montana (3-3) faced a scoring drought of 7:27 before freshman Katie Mayhue scored with just under seven minutes left in the second quarter to snap Arizona’s run. No matter what Montana did, Arizona seemed to counter quickly and efficiently to blow the game open. Arizona led Montana 53-25 at halftime.
The biggest key was rebounding. Arizona out-rebounded Montana 50 to 22, using its size to out-muscle the Lady Griz on the offensive glass. Arizona grabbed 23 offensive rebounds which it turned into 27 second-chance points. Montana also turned the ball over 22 times, which led to 36 points for Arizona.
“They absolutely abused us on the boards,” Montana coach Shannon Schweyen told KMPT radio. “It was hard to get a rebound anywhere. They were just quicker to the ball and that was just a big difference and all the second chance points that they got.
“We did not take care of (the ball). We went over press breaker a lot and we just didn’t do a very good job with inbounds (passing). I think we could’ve done better.”
For the game, Arizona was 37 of 72 (51.4 percent) from the field and knocked down 9 of 22 (40.9 percent) 3-pointers.
Mayhue led the Lady Griz in scoring and rebounds with 17 and five, respectively, while junior Emma Stockholm added nine points. As a team, Montana shot the ball 35.4 percent (17 of 48) from the floor and 46.2 percent (6 of 13) from beyond the arc.
“For a while there, we were actually shooting pretty good at half,” Schweyen said. “It was just all of the turnovers and extra points on rebounds we were giving them. Opportunities that you just can’t hang with a team like that if you do.”
Reese, who was a McDonald’s All-American and five-star recruit coming out of high school, earned high praise from Schweyen after the game.
“I was just telling them in the locker room, I looked out there at one point and Abby (Anderson) is a pretty good looking athlete at 6-2 and long and she looked tiny next to Reese,” Schweyen said. “They’re big and strong and we knew that coming into this thing.”
Junior guard McKenzie Johnston left the game late in the third quarter with an apparent nose injury and didn't return.
Schweyen looked at the game as a good experience for her younger players. Mayhue saw added minutes at point guard with Johnston out while the Lady Griz were pressed in different ways by Arizona until the very end. All 10 Lady Griz players who entered the game played 10 minutes or more.
“It’s one of those things where our kids saw lots of different things,” Schweyen said. “We’ve got to look at that as experience we’re getting and get better from it.”
The Lady Griz head to Phoenix, where they’ll take on Grand Canyon at 6 p.m. Friday.