Montana Lady Griz shoots for first win over NCAA Division I foe on Sunday | Montana grizzlies

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MISSOULA — Armed with the momentum and confidence generated by their best performance of the young season on Tuesday, the Montana women’s basketball team will be aiming higher on Sunday afternoon when they host North Dakota.

The Lady Griz used an impressive 24-point performance from Sammy Fatkin to dispatch NAIA Providence four days ago. But beating an NCAA Division I team is usually a tougher task, both literally and figuratively, and the Fighting Hawks are no pushover, with victories over Detroit Mercy and Wyoming under their belts.

The lingering question for Montana fans is the same as last month: When will the team’s best player, Carmen Gfeller, return to the roster? She spent part of the offseason in a walking shoe, but participated in pre-game warm-ups and is expected to be back any day.

Lady Griz fans will have to tune in on Sunday to find out if it’s the day.

“Some of the things that Carmen does we don’t have right now,” Montana coach Brian Holsinger told 406mtsports.com. “You don’t want to change your offense. But you also want to try to make the other kids aware of certain things as well.

“Some of the things we do are probably better for Carmen and not as good for others, but we’ll get her back. It’s been a bit of a conundrum (without Gfeller) and we’ve been working to figure it out.”

Fifth-year senior Fatkin has taken it upon herself to lead a team that is 0-2 against Division I opponents and 1-2 overall. She leads Montana in points (16 points per game) and ranks second in rebounds (19 in three games).

“It’s definitely a different perspective for me this season, a different role,” she said. “I definitely feel it.

“I think I’m just super grateful to my teammates that we’re taking all of our roles. There’s always pressure and responsibility, but I’m grateful for that and want to make sure I’m doing well with my teammates. .”

Montana handily won North Dakota last November, 72-51. Fatkin had 25 points and three steals, so you know the Hawks are going to keep track of her on Sunday.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Holsinger said of Sunday’s 2 p.m. contest. “A chance to be in front of our fans again. They’re a solid team. We beat them at home last year, but we’ll have to do our best.”

North Dakota (2-1) is led by senior guard Kacie Borowicz. The former Miss Basketball Minnesota was named to the Preseason All-Summit League First Team for the 2022-23 season. The Hawks are chosen to finish fourth in the league.

The Hawks’ trip to Dahlberg Arena is part of a two-game tour through the Treasure State. They lost to Montana State on Friday night, 77-66, despite 20 points from Borowicz. North Dakota led by a bucket at halftime but struggled with their shot, finishing 27 for 75 from the field.

Bill Speltz is Missoulian’s sports editor and has been a Sunday columnist for the past 16 years. Do you have a story idea? Email Bill at [email protected]

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