A bizarre third quarter put the Montana women's basketball team in position for its biggest road win of the season Saturday.
Idaho still found a way to edge past the Lady Griz.
Despite failing to score in the third period, the Vandals rallied for a 52-51 win at the Cowan Spectrum in Moscow, Idaho. Montana inbounded the ball from its end of the floor with 16.3 ticks left but missed shots by Gabi Harrington and McKenzie Johnston sealed its fate.
"Our offense had a severe power outage, but I love the way we hung in," said Vandals coach Jon Newlee, who noted that his teams had never before been shut out for an entire period in 18 years as an NCAA Division I college coach. "I'm so proud of our kids for getting that last stop and not fouling and getting the rebound. We just found a way."
Montana (4-3 Big Sky Conference, 9-7 overall) was in good position leading 47-39 early in the fourth quarter. But Idaho (5-1, 10-5) rallied behind Fairfield natives Natalie and Lizzy Klinker, who finished with 17 and 13 points, respectively.
Natalie Klinker scored the final two points of the game on a bunny with 2:20 left, giving the hosts a 52-51 lead. Montana looked as if it might reclaim the lead with 70 ticks left when Johnston took a scoop shot from close range, but the attempt hit the bottom of the rim on the way up.
The game turned controversial with under a minute left. Idaho's Hailey Christopher launched a long 3-ball as the shot clock was running out and an inadvertent whistle, blown because the officials thought the shot clock hit :00, proved to be a break for the hosts. The officials were forced to rectify the situation with a jump ball call and the Vandals retained possession.
Idaho milked another 25 seconds off the clock before Allison Kirby's missed 3-pointer went out of bounds, giving Montana possession with 16.3 seconds left. Several timeouts were called before Taylor Goligoski inbounded the ball for the Lady Griz.
"We had a little back screen for Abby (Anderson) and Gabi (Harrington) coming off a screen up top," Montana coach Shannon Schweyen told KMPT radio. "We were looking to dump it down to (Anderson) but they had bodies on her.
"Kenzie (Johnston) did a great job of going and getting the board and it looked like she got fouled on the way up. But that's the way it goes and unfortunately no call."
Key to the outcome was Montana's inability to build a sizable lead when Idaho went 0 for 15 from the floor in the third quarter. The Lady Griz weren't much better with their 3-for-15 shooting in the period and their lead was just three points heading into the final frame, 40-37.
That lead ballooned to eight points after a pair of buckets by Harrington, including a triple, and an Anderson jumper with just over 7 minutes left. But the Vandals were not to be denied in boosting their home record to 6-0.
"The effort was there today without a doubt," Schweyen said. "Those are always extremely disappointing when you have that effort and don't come away with a win."
Both teams struggled from the floor, with Montana finishing at 30.6 percent (19 for 62) and Idaho at 31.7 percent (19 for 60). The Lady Griz won the battle of the boards, 49-40, but turned the ball over 13 times to the Vandals' eight.
Montana will begin a four-game home stretch on Thursday when it entertains Idaho State at Dahlberg Arena.