Longtime Lady Griz coach Robin Selvig says Katie Baker is becoming the all-around player he thought she'd be when she arrived at Montana two seasons ago.
Baker showed why last week.
The 6-foot junior forward from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in back-to-back games to help UM win a pair of key Big Sky Conference matchups with Northern Arizona and Weber State.
The wins bumped the Lady Griz to 10-7 overall, and pulled them into a tie with Portland State for second place in the league standings at 3-1. Montana has now won six of its last seven games.
For her effort, Baker was named the Big Sky's women's basketball player of the week on Monday. It is Baker's first player of the week nod.
"Katie has really been solid in all phases of the game, which is a good thing," Selvig said. "She's been scoring consistently and really rebounding the ball.
"She's playing really good basketball right now -- like the experienced, poised player we need her to be."
A significant presence inside, Baker has four double-doubles in UM's six games since Christmas. Of her 20 rebounds last week, 13 came on the offensive end.
In Thursday's 60-48 win over NAU, Baker shot 7 for 12 from the floor, and corralled eight offensive rebounds. In Saturday's 77-70 win over Weber State, she shot 12 for 13 from the foul line, a career high.
Two years ago, Baker suffered a season-ending knee injury just 15 games into her collegiate career. But she's shown no ill effects since. Baker currently leads the Lady Griz in scoring (13.4 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rpg), and is also their top shooter at 44 percent. She also averages 1.8 blocked shots per game, which is tied for first in the Big Sky.
The Lady Griz, who are chasing their 23rd regular-season conference championship since 1981, travel to Northern Colorado and Sacramento State this week.
A LONG TIME COMING
Montana State's men couldn't corral Weber State last Thursday, losing 63-49 at Worthington Arena. But the Bobcats bounced back for a landmark victory at Northern Arizona on Saturday, a 74-72 triumph that served as their first win in Flagstaff, Ariz., since 2002.
Xavier Blount led MSU with 21 points, and made two key plays late to preserve the win. Blount tied the game at 72-72 with a jumper at the 2:01 mark, and later stole the ball and converted a layup for the winning points.
MSU shot 56 percent for the game, including 60 percent in the first half. Forward Shawn Reid did his part, hitting 7 of 11 from the floor to finish with 16 points.
The Bobcats are 8-8 overall, and their 3-2 mark is good for a tie with defending Big Sky champion Northern Colorado for third place in the league standings. MSU hosts Sacramento State this Thursday night in Altitude TV's Big Sky game of the week. Tip off is at 7 p.m.
Montana split two games last week -- it won 78-53 at NAU on Thursday before losing 80-64 at Weber State on Saturday. UM is now 11-6 overall and 4-1 in the league, which is good for second place in the standings.
Now in his sixth season in Missoula, Grizzlies coach Wayne Tinkle continues to climb the won-lost chart for Big Sky coaches.
Tinkle's overall record is now 102-70, a winning percentage of .593. His record within the league, though, is more impressive. Tinkle, who starred for the Griz in the 1980s, is 55-30 in Big Sky Conference games, a winning percentage of .647.
Both marks rank second in the league for active coaches behind Weber State's Randy Rahe, who is 109-64 overall in six seasons and 66-20 in the Big Sky.
Weber State's men swept UM and MSU last week, and remain on top of the league standings with a 6-0 mark. The Wildcats are 14-3 overall, and have won eight in a row.
Star guard Damian Lillard had 17 points Thursday night in the win over MSU, and followed it with a game-high 21 in the Wildcats' victory over Montana on Saturday. Lillard is still the Division I scoring leader at 25.5 points per game.
Weber State, which hosts Northern Arizona on Thursday, remained at No. 15 in this week's College Insider Mid-Major top 25 poll.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Portland State G Charles Odum was named the men's player of the week. Odum scored 22 points and had five assists and four rebounds Thursday night in an 86-75 victory over Northern Colorado. It was PSU's first win of the year. ... With five more 3-pointers last week, MSU's Katie Bussey is now 16 3s away from tying the Big Sky's career record. Weber State's Chelsea Warburton (2004-07) is the all-time leader with 238 3-point makes. ... Road teams won five of eight men's conference games last week. In the last two weeks, road teams have won 11 of 16 conference games.