By ERIC TABER
The Montana men’s basketball team (2-3) returns home to Dahlberg Arena on Friday to take on its second West Coast Conference team in a series of three when the San Francisco Dons (4-3) pay a visit to the Garden City on December 4, in a 7:00 p.m. tipoff time.
The Griz return home doing some soul searching after suffering two road defeats around the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a tough 53-73 loss to North Dakota State in Fargo, and a 63-69 loss to the Pepperdine Waves in California.
Despite the two Grizzly losses, senior forward Martin Breunig has been virtually unstoppable, posting nearly identical double-doubles of 28 points and 12 rebounds against NDSU, and 28 points and 10 rebounds against the Waves.
Breunig is third in the Big Sky Conference in scoring, averaging 20 points per game. He’s also tied for second in rebounds averaging 10 per outing and has the second best field goal percentage in the conference with .679.
SERIES HISTORY: The Grizzlies have never beaten the Dons, going 0-7 all-time against the Jesuit Catholic School from the West Coast Conference.
The Dons won the last meeting between the two teams last year in Coach DeCuire’s fifth game as head coach 76-57 in San Francisco. The Griz then crossed the Bay Bridge two days later and bounced back against the Cal Bears, nearly upsetting the Pac-12 team 78-76 in double overtime.
The Griz and Dons have played each other every season since 2010-11.
SCOUTING THE DONS: At 4-3, USF is currently situated in fifth place in the West Coast Conference standings, but like the Griz, have not played a conference game as of yet.
The Dons are led by one of the top point guards in the WCC in sophomore Devin Watson (6-1, 165), who started in 15-16 games for USF last season as a true freshman and earned WCC All-Freshman honors.
Watson is currently leading the Dons in scoring, averaging 19.7 points per game, and has already dished out 39 assists this season, averaging 5.5 per game.
But the Dons have a young team with 12 veterans departing last season, and 10 newcomers on the squad this year. As such, USF is picked to finish seventh in the WCC preseason poll.
NEXT UP: The Griz face its stiffest challenge to date, traveling to Spokane to take on the No. 3 team in the nation, the Gonzaga Bulldogs.