Early Easter for the Griz



It is the Easter season, after all, and the Montana Grizzlies seemingly rose from the dead in the second half Tuesday night to stun Weber State and move into Wednesday night’s championship game in the Big Sky Conference tournament in Greeley, Colo.

Was it rust? Was it Weber? We’ll probably never know why the Grizzlies were only able to make three field goals – yes, I said three field goals – in the entire first half.

In a half that was hard to find positives from, there were some for Montana in a 20-minute segment that saw the Griz shoot just 3 for 23 from the field.

The Griz did two things during the first 20 minutes that left them with even a whisper of a chance in the final 20 minutes: they rebounded and they played defense. As pathetic as Montana was offensively, Weber State wasn’t much better. Montana only had 12 at the half, but the Wildcats only had 22.

In the second half Will Cherry became Will Cherry again. After scoring just two points in the first half Cherry started to assert himself, going to the hoop and getting to the line.

Derek Selvig looked lost in the first 20 minutes and found in the second 20.

Brian Qvale played a big part in the second half as did Jordan Wood (6 rebounds) – even though he didn’t score much – along with Kareem Jamar (10 points) and Art Steward (7 rebounds).

I thought one thing that hurt Weber State in the second half, besides Montana’s defense and board dominance, was the play of BSC freshman of the year Byron Fulton. When he got his hands on the ball in the second half he wasn’t thinking pass. Yeah, he scored a couple of points, but when you have proven big guys like Trevor Morris and Kyle Bullinger seem to disappear, getting no touches, it couldn’t have been a good thing for the Wildcats.

Check these figures out:

Field goal shooting for the night: Montana 38.8 percent (19-49, 16-26 in the second half); Weber State 21.4 percent (12-56). 3-point shooting: Montana 4-13, Weber 4-20. Rebounding: Montana 48, Weber 29.

The line for Qvale: 16 points, 17 rebounds, 2 blocks.

The line for Cherry: 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists.

The line for Selvig: 9 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists.

Weber State only had one player, Sam Bamforth, in double figures. The Wildcats looked pretty ineffective, and frankly tired, after about the first four or five minutes of the second half.

I loved assistant coach Bill Evans’ comment after the game, something to the effect that Weber State had the Griz by 20 in last year’s tournament title game, so 10 this year in the semifinals didn’t seem like a lot.

Congrats, Griz, for shaking off the rust, making us proud, and giving us some hope for another trip to the dance. Whoever Montana plays Wednesday night, it will be a challenge.

I’ll be tuning in, that’s for sure.

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 42 years.