Griz Dominate the Oildiggers 86-44

By DAVE GUFFEY for GoGriz.com | Photos by WILLIAM MUNOZ

The University of Montana went on a big-time scoring run and dominated in all phases of the game, and the result was an 86-44 victory over the visiting Montana Tech Orediggers Tuesday evening in UM’s final non-league game of the season in Dahlberg Arena.

Montana Tech stayed within range of the Grizzlies through most of the first half, and knotted the contest up at 21-21 with 7:10 to go until intermission on a three-pointer by forward Trent Thompson. But, when UM senior guard Jordan Gregory nailed a three-pointer at the 5:54 mark he gave the Grizzlies a 24-21 edge and the Orediggers trailed the rest of the way.

After Gregory’s go-ahead trey in the first half, Montana out-scored Tech 20-2, and the Griz jumped to a substantial 41-23 halftime lead.

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Photo by ©William Munoz for Make it Missoula

“We finally got some stops and got into a rhythm, got some transition looks,” said UM head coach Travis DeCuire when asked about his team’s defensive effort. “When you’re walking up and down the floor there’s no intensity, and our timing was off. It was important to get some stops and play off our defense.”

The Griz continued their lop-sided scoring run into the second half, and took a commanding 41-point lead (71-30) with 8:58 left to play on a three-pointer by senior forward Mike Weisner and out-scored Tech 30-7 in that sketch. UM was an impressive 17-of-28 (60.7%) from the field in the final half, and also were 8-of-12 (66.7%) from behind the arc in the final 20 minutes.

The Grizzlies (7-8) had four of their five starters score in double figures, led by Gregory (who was 9-of-14 from the field and made 5-of-6 treys) with a game-high 24 points. Fellow starters in double-digits were junior forward Martin Breunig (14 points), freshman forward Fabijan Krslovic (a season-high 13), and sophomore guard Mario Dunn (10).

UM’s other starter, sophomore guard Brandon Gfeller, added 9 points – all in the second half. Weisner, who made 2-of-5 three point attempts, continues to work himself back into shape after missing five games due to an injury, scored 9 points, while sophomore guard Riley Bradshaw chipped in 7.

“He needed to get the lid off,” said DeCuire about Weisner’s play. “It was good for his confidence. He was turning some shots down and we jumped him a little bit. I think he needed to see the ball go through the basket.”

The Griz shot a season-high 57.9% (11-of-19) from three-point range, made 32-of-60 (53.3%) field goal attempts, and converted 11-of-15 (73.3%) free throws. UM out-rebounded Tech 39-28.

BBQKrslovic tied his career-high and had a game-leading 9 rebounds, while Breunig hauled down 8 boards and also had 2 blocks Sophomore forward Jack Lopez added a career-high 5 rebounds. Dunn also had a career-best 5 steals and a game-high 5 assists.

“No guards like to get the ball taken from them, especially a guy like Mario,” said DeCuire, when asked if a steal early in the second half of the game by the Oregdiggers’ senior guard Antonio Snow had fired Dunn’s up a bit. “I thought it turned him on a little bit and got him going. That’s big time. It’s good to see a guy like him make plays like that, it’s good for his confidence. He’s doing a really good job of finishing around the basket right now. His legs are strong.”

The Orediggers (who remain 11-5 overall, as this was an exhibition game for them) were 15-of-51 from the floor for 29.4% – a game low by an Griz opponent this season. Tech’s 44 total points were the fewest by a UM foe this season as well.

Montana out-scored Montana Tech 38 to 4 in the paint, and tallied 32 points off of 17 turnovers by the Orediggers (who scored 11 points on 10 Griz TOs).

Tech’s only double-figure scorer was Florence native Reid Baerlocher with 10 points. Senior forward Adam Greger, also from Florence added 7 points, as did Thompson, a senior from Plains.

The Grizzlies host the Montana State Bobcats in a “Brawl of the Wild” series in one of the nation’s oldest rivalries on Saturday, Jan. 17, with tip-off at 7:05 p.m. in Dahlberg Arena. The Orediggers host Lewis-Clark State in a Frontier Conference game this Saturday

“That was the idea for the timing of this game, to try to get another win and put together a little streak,” said DeCuire asked if the win added to his squad’s momentum. “If we take care of business Saturday, you’re looking at holding down the fort. We’re excited about the opportunity.

“The weeks get long,” DeCuire continued. “There’s nothing worse than beating up on each other mid-season. If we hadn’t played a game we probably would have scrimmaged tomorrow. Now we have three days of prep to really get focused on them (MSU) and get better as a team.”

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