MISSOULA — The Montana Lady Griz will open the Mike Petrino era by playing at Utah State the day before Thanksgiving.

The season opener is part of a five-game slate of non-conference basketball games and will take place at 1 p.m. Nov. 25.

The Lady Griz will play two other road games, at Gonzaga on Dec. 13 and Seattle on Dec. 15 as part of the same road trip. Their other two non-conference games are home contests against North Dakota on Dec. 7 and Utah Valley on Dec. 21.

"Scheduling is always challenging. Scheduling during COVID was challenging times 10," Petrino said in a news release, which noted a non-conference schedule had been set last spring, only to require numerous changes because of the pandemic.

"The number of games that we had scheduled and had to change since last year is probably more games than we'll play all year. In the end we found games that are within driving distance, which is good, and we were able to get some home games. We got games against really good opponents. It will be a challenging schedule."

After opening against Utah State, Montana won't play again until hosting Southern Utah on Dec. 3 and Dec. 5 in its first league games. Big Sky teams are playing 20 conference games this season and were capped at five non-conference contests.

The Lady Griz then return to non-conference games against North Dakota, Gonzaga, Seattle and Utah Valley before starting their remaining 18-game conference schedule Jan. 1 and Jan. 3 at Northern Colorado. The Big Sky Conference tournament is slated to begin March 8 in Boise and run through March 12.

Montana returns three starters from a team that went 17-13 overall, tied for fourth in the Big Sky at 12-8 and exited the conference tournament in the quarterfinals under previous coach Shannon Schweyen. Returning starters Madi Schoening, Abby Anderson and Sophia Stiles join four other returnees, three transfers and five true freshmen.

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