Can’t Let Up Against Such a Quick Team

By BILL SCHWANKE for MakeItMissoula.com

We’ve seen it before from the Montana Grizzlies this season: get off to a good start, then shut down a bit intensity-wise and have to scramble to the finish.

But Wednesday night the Griz found out they can’t shut down at all when they’re up against easily the quickest and most athletic team they’ve probably seen this season, even on your home court.

Duquesne’s defense was stifling, especially in the first half, on the way to the Dukes’ 87-76 win that ended Montana’s season at 21-11.

The Griz dug themselves (with Duquesne’s help) a 22-point hole late in the first half, then battled back to trail by 14 at the half.

Montana made some mini-runs in the second half, at one point (9:14 left) cutting the margin to six, but each time the Griz made a mini-run the Dukes answered, a credit to them.

It was sort of a last-game coming-out party for UM freshman Kareem Jamar, who wound up with a career high 22 points to lead all scorers in the game. Brian Qvale chipped in 15 and had three blocks, giving him the single-season mark at Montana. Jordan Wood came off the bench to tally 14 points – also a career high – while Art Steward, held to 23 minutes because of foul trouble, led Montana in rebounding with seven.

But it wasn’t enough to overcome five players in double figures for Duquesne which will go on to play the Oregon Ducks, who fought off a game effort by Weber State in Eugene to win 68-59.

A crowd of just under 2,800 showed up at Dahlberg Arena and, when needed, sounded more like 4,000. Most of them stuck around to the end, giving lone senior Qvale a long round of applause when he went to the bench in the final moments, and giving a team that deserved it one final tribute for the season.

It will be interesting to see how the Griz develop next year. With seven new players on the roster this season it’s a tribute to all involved that they won 21 games overall – 12 in league play – and played for the Big Sky Conference title.

Next season Montana will have four seniors but only two – Derek Selvig and Shawn Stockton – who will have been here for four seasons. Junior college transfers Art Steward and Jordan Wood will be going into their second and final seasons as Grizzlies.

I can’t wait to see the new recruits and watch the further development of guys like Jamar, Will Cherry, Vaughn Autry, Eric Hutchison, Mathias Ward and Billy Reader, to name a few.

Thanks, Griz, for a highly entertaining 2010-11 season!

I’d love to hear your comments on what I’m talking about or answer any questions you might have. So have at it. I’m way beyond having my feelings hurt. And thanks for reading me. Back to Griz and Lady Griz Hoops blog home page.

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“Grizzly Bill” Schwanke is a UM journalism grad and Missoula native.  He spent 21 years doing play-by-play for Griz football and men’s basketball winning sportscaster of the year six times and working in Grizzly athletics for 15 years total. He’s enjoying retirement, especially the chance to spend time with his three grandsons. His wife Lynn and he have been married for 42years.