Griz Defeat First-Place Weber State 68-57 (Photo Gallery)

By DAVE GUFFEY for GoGriz.com | Photos by MASON SHOULTZ

Senior guard Kareem Jamar tallied a game-high 25 points and also moved up on the Big Sky Conference’s all-time career scoring list, as the University of Montana Grizzlies defeated the visiting Weber State Wildcats 68-57 in a league contest Thursday night in UM’s Dahlberg Arena.

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak by the Grizzlies, who improved to 8-7 in the conference and 13-11 overall.  The Wildcats, who have now lost two games in a row, remain in first place in the league with an 11-4 mark, and are now 14-9 overall.

Montana head coach Wayne Tinkle also reached a milestone with the victory, as it was the 154th of his career, tying him with Mike Montgomery (154 wins from 1979-86)) for the second most wins in school history.

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UM Senior, Kareem Jamar scored a game-high 25 points. Photo by Mason Shoultz for MakeitMissoula.com

It was another tight and emotional contest between two of the Big Sky’s premier teams over the past several years, and had nine ties and five lead changes.

The Grizzlies took the lead for good at 45-44 with 11:40 left to play on a 3-pointer by Jamar, who has now scored has 1,583 career points, which moves him up to 21st all-time in Big Sky history.

A couple of minutes before Jamar’s go-ahead trey, the Wildcats had taken their fifth and final lead of the game with 13:42 remaining on a 3-pointer by freshman guard Jeremy Senglin.

Despite leading the entire second half, UM’s lead was tenuous after Jamar’s trey, as WSU cut the Grizzlies’ advantage to just a point at 52-51, on a jumper by 6–10 senior center Kyle Tresnak.  The Griz out-scored the Cats 11-2 after that, though, and when senior center Eric Hutchison grabbed an offensive rebound and followed it up with a lay-up, Montana jumped to a 63-53 lead with 3:43 to go – its first double digit lead of the contest.

Montana maintained at least an eight-point lead after Hutchison’s lay-up, and a driving lay-up by Jordan Gregory and a 14-foot jumper by fellow junior guard Keron DeShields were two crucial scoring plays in the final three minutes that allowed the Griz to maintain a comfortable lead.

The Griz had grabbed a slim 33-32 halftime edge on a lay-up by sophomore center Andy Martin on an excellent wrap-around pass by Gregory with just one second to go until intermission

Jamar, who was 11-of-19 from the floor, 2-of-6 from 3-point range, and 1-of-2 from the line, scored 14 of his 25 points in the second half, and was the Grizzlies’ only player in double figures.  It was the 14th time this season Jamar has scored 20 or more points, and the eight time in UM’s last 11 games.

Hutchison also scored all 9 of his points in the final half.  Gregory added 9 points, including 7 in the final 20 minutes, and had a game and career-high 6 assists.  DeShields and junior forward Mike Weisner added 7 points each, while freshman guard Mario Dunn chipped in 5 points, and led the Griz with 6 rebounds.

The Griz were extremely efficient shooting-wise in the second half, going 15-of-22 (68.2%) from the floor and 2-of-3 behind the arc.

Tresnak was a force in the paint, making 9-of-11 shots from the field and going 5-5 from the line.  He was limited to 25 minutes of playing time because of foul trouble, and fouled out with 1:09 left in the game.  Senior guard/forward Davion Berry scored 12 points, while Senglin added 10, and 6-9 sophomore forward Joel Bolomboy pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.  WSU had a slim 23-21 rebounding edge.

The Grizzlies host the Idaho State Bengals Saturday, Jan. 22.  ISU lost 66-60 at Montana State this evening.  The Wildcats play at MSU this Saturday.

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