By ERIC TABER
The Montana Grizzlies took care of business against the visiting Great Falls Argos of the NAIA in Dahlberg Arena on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t a walk in the park for the UM as they battled to a 79-59 nonconference win to move to 4-5 on the season, and remain undefeated at home.
Four of five Griz starters scored in double figures on the night, with senior Martin Breunig leading all scorers with 18 points and a game high nine rebounds, while going 6-13 shooting.
Redshirt freshman Bryden Boehning had a career day going 5-8 for 10 points and six rebounds to make a total of five Griz scoring in double figures.
Brandon Gfeller found the form he’s been searching for in three point shots, going 5-7 from behind the arc and earning player of the game status with 17 points and a blocked shot.
As a whole, the Griz shot a stellar 57 percent in the first half, before slowing down for a stretch to open the second half where UM shot 3-17 and the Argos closed the lead to six points after five minutes.
That was as close as Great Falls would get however, as Brandon Gfeller sparked a run of eight points and another of nine points to put the Griz out front for the duration.
With the win the Griz now turn their attention to the No. 2 ranked Kansas Jayhawks on Dec. 19 at Phog Allen Field House in Lawrence, Kansas.
“We needed to get a win. Our goal was to win as many games at home as possible. So It’s another win at home, and now we get through finals, get some shots up tomorrow and so go see what we’ve got,” said Coach DeCuire after the win over the Argos.
“We feel good about where we’re at. We’ve got more wins now that we did going into conference last year, so to get one or two more would be great.”
Montana also got double-digit contributions from Walter Wright who put in 14, and true freshman Michael Oguine, who put in 10 points and took seven rebounds.
While Great Falls pushed the pace and exposed some weakness, the Grizzly defense forced 16 turnovers, leading to 20 points in transition for UM. Walter Wright led the way with three steals for the Griz.
The Grizzlies set the pace from behind the arc early on in the game, as Brandon Gfeller drained a three on Montana’s first offensive possession of the game. Walter Wright followed suit a minute later with a triple of his own.
Great Falls took their first lead of the game with 16:45 remaining when Lamar Falley hit a one-footed step-back jumper. The shot was a part of an 8-1 run by the Argos, which gave them a 13-9 lead at the first media timeout.
Montana answered with an 8-0 run of its own, finished off by a three-pointer from freshman Bobby Moorehead. The Griz consistently built the lead from there, getting it up to 17 points with just over four minutes remaining in the half.
The Argos wouldn’t go away, however, as its full-court defense began to cause issues for Montana’s offense. The Griz managed just four points over the final 4:36 of the half, and Great Falls finished on a 14-4 run.
Both defenses picked things up in the second half, with Great Falls scoring the first basket of the half after three minutes of play. Martin Breunig scored Montana’s first points of the half with a powerful, two-handed slam through a foul. He converted the free throw to give the Griz an eight point lead at 47-39.
Fellow post Bryden Boehning did his best Breunig impersonation with just under 13 minutes left in the game, sweeping in from the right for a monster jam while being fouled. Great Falls continued to hang around, and trailed by only six points with 10:44 left after a John Makker layup.
Montana then put together an 8-0 run, with all eight points scored by either Breunig or Gfeller, to stretch the lead into double-figures, where it would remain for the rest of the game, at 14.
Breunig added another dunk off a smooth assist from Walter Wright with six minutes remaining, and the Griz would coast down the stretch for the 20-point victory.
The Grizzlies finished the game shooting a solid 49 percent from the floor and 45 percent from behind the three-point line.
Montana will have two more days of practice before hitting the road to Lawrence to take on the 8-1 Jayhawks, whose only loss came on Nov. 17 to the now No. 1 Michigan State Spartans. That game can be seen live on ESPN3.