Big Sky
GCU went into Big Sky territory on Thursday and came away with a win over Montana. Courtesy GCU Athletics.

WBB: Lopes Pick Up Road Win in Big Sky Country

Welcome to Big Sky territory, GCU.

Unfortunately for the Montana Grizzlies, that warm welcome was treated with an air of superiority on Thursday afternoon in Missoula.

Olivia Lane put on a show in her first game as a Lope with 19 points to lead GCU to a 71-63 win over Montana in Big Sky territory on Thursday afternoon.

The Grizz of the University of Montana continued their challenging non-conference schedule by facing GCU for the third time in program history.

Before this game, Montana was a perfect 2-0 against the Lopes. But this talented GCU squad was looking to change that. And that’s exactly what they did.

Lane had 19 points in her first outing. CBU transfer Sydney Palma had a team-high 22 points and Aaliyah Collins had 13 points in the win.

This extremely competitive game saw an intense 12 lead changes.

Let’s take a look at the details of what was a very fun game to watch. 

Back and Forth

This game was neck and neck from the very beginning. The scoring from the tip was as even as it gets. The first quarter ended in a tie at 14 all. T

Montana’s 3-point shooting was the difference in the first quarter. It seemed like that’s all the Grizzlies wanted to take. GCU was playing a zone defense and the Grizz were finding it very easy to pick apart and get their shooters open. Montana shot 11 3-pointers and sank four of them, meaning only two of their points in the first period were not from behind the arc. But, GCU was able to keep up offensively with a more well-rounded approach. 

Although Montana’s 3-point shooting slowed in the second quarter, they were doing so more efficiently. They shot 3-5 in that period as GCU was starting to recover much better defensively. GCU also seemed to come out of their recent free-throw shooting funk. The Lopes went 5-6 in the second quarter and ended up shooting 17-21 overall.

Montana took a 27-25 lead into the halftime locker room. 

Lopes Roll

The back-and-forth battle continued in the third quarter. Both teams shot the ball very efficiently and neither squad could gain a real advantage. GCU shot 46 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point land. Montana shot it just a bit better at 56 and 60 percent. Because of this, the Grizzlies maintained their lead at the end of the third. The quarter ended with another 2-point difference as both teams scored 21 in the period. It was 48-46 going into the fourth and GCU was not about to take that lightly. 

Suddenly, GCU was firing on all cylinders. Aaliyah Collins opened the scoring up with a mid-range jumper at the 8:41 mark. Sydney Palma followed that up a minute later with her fifth and final 3-pointer of the day. She would end the game with 22 points to lead all scorers. 

The Lopes slowly pulled away after that, led by a surprisingly impressive debut by junior forward Olivia Lane. Despite Tiarra Brown, their lead scorer going into the game, fouling out with four minutes and change remaining, the Lopes managed to leave Big Sky country with a  71-63 win. 

Transfers Set the Pace

As I mentioned above, Sydney Palma and Olivia Lane showed up in a big way in Big Sky country. Palma got her second start as a Lope and showed everyone exactly why she deserves her spot. She made five 3-pointers and finished with 22 points. Palma also had four rebounds, two steals, and an assist, again showing how well-rounded of a player she can be. 

Olivia Lane transferred to GCU this season from North Dakota, who the Lopes defeated just a few games ago. However, she injured her knee before ever stepping foot on the court for the Lopes this season. After missing seven games, including her team’s tough loss against ASU, Lane  was more than ready to rock the purple and white for the first time. She would only play 13 minutes against the Grizz. But she scored 19 points in her debut; second most of anyone for either team. She certainly doesn’t look hurt anymore and is a welcome addition to the already-loaded Lopes squad. If Lane, Sydney Palma, Aaliyah Collins, Tiara Brown, and the rest of the team continue at this rate, the sky is the limit. 

About the author

Chelsea Mendelson

On-Air Talent and Producer with GCUTV. Former basketball player and current basketball fan. Proud to be a woman in sports.

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