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Pitted against a depleted Idaho team, the Montana women's basketball squad had a prime opportunity to pull an upset Friday in Moscow.

The Vandals were down to eight players because five members of the roster, including starters Beyonce Bea and Gina Marxen, were sidelined in COVID-19 protocol. The Lady Griz took advantage early, building a four-point halftime lead, but Idaho exploded in the third quarter and motored to a 92-72 win at historic Memorial Gym.

"We just got outscored, blown out the second half," Montana coach Mike Petrino told KMPT radio. "We struggled to score there for stretches and we got lit up in transition and fouled shooters.

"That second half they killed us in transition, halfcourt offense and on the boards. Credit to them."

Montana (12-10) will enter next week's Big Sky Conference tourney on a three-game losing streak. The Lady Griz will play Sac State (2-21) at 8 p.m. Monday, with the winner advancing to the quarterfinals Tuesday at 8 p.m.

Key to the outcome was a devastating 13-0 run by Idaho (15-6) after Montana pulled within three, 69-66, with 7 minutes left. Paris Atchley started the surge with a 3-point bank shot. She then added a layup and Janie King hit a triple and that appeared to stun Montana. 

Lost in the disappointment of the Lady Griz setback was a 23-point performance by guard Sophia Stiles. She hit 9 of 21 shots from the floor and also shared team-high rebounding honors with Madi Schoening, with each player grabbing seven boards.

"Sophie Stiles played a great game and carried us offensively, especially in the first half," Petrino said.

Montana went 27 for 73 from the floor. The team did hit nine 3-point goals, but it took 30 attempts to do it.

Freshman Sydney Gandy scored a career-high 23 points for Idaho. Former Lady Griz player Gabi Harrington added 19 points and nine rebounds for the Vandals.

"We didn't score inside like we should have, didn't do a good job getting it in side," Petrino said. "...But we have to not let this beat us the next game."

Bill Speltz is Missoulian Sports Editor and has served as Sunday columnist the past 15 years. Do you have a story idea? Email Bill at bill.speltz@missoulian.com.

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