Grizzly Men’s Basketball Win Over UND 77-62

By DAVE GUFFEY, for University of Montana Sports Information

Senior forward Mathias Ward scored a season-high 27 points to lead The University of Montana Grizzlies to a 77-62 Big Sky Conference victory over host University of North Dakota in UND’s Betty Engelstad Center Thursday evening.

The Griz remain undefeated in league play, improving to 5-0, and are now 9-4 overall.  It was Montana’s 18th straight Big Sky win.

Montana held a slim 38-36 halftime lead, but broke the game wide open in the early portion of the second half.

After UND (1-4/4-10) tied the game at 38-38 with 18:53 left in the second half on a lay-up by junior guard Jamal Webb, UM sophomore forward Kevin Henderson canned a jumper, giving the Grizzlies a 40-38 lead and Montana led the rest of the way.

After Henderson’s go-ahead shot Montana-scored UND 10-0 in the next three-plus minutes, and when Ward made a jumper the Griz took a 12-point (50-38) lead with 16:28 left to play.

“It was a little heated in our locker rom at halftime, and we changed up are line-up a little bit in the second half,” said seventh-year head coach Wayne Tinkle on KGVO Radio during his post-game show.   “We had great effort by our guys in the second half.  I love this group.  We challenged them, and they responded.”

UND stayed with striking distance for a few minutes mid-way through the second half, but once again Montana went on a run, as it broke the game open and went on a 12-4 scoring run, jumping to a commanding 70-50 lead with 5:08 to go on a lay-up b y Ward.

Ward led four Griz players in double figures, with his 27 points, which is just one shy of his career-high of 28 points which he scored against Eastern Washington last season.  Senior guard Will Cherry tallied 14 points, while Henderson added a career-best 12 points, and junior guard-forward Kareem Jamar chipped in 11.

Jamar had a game-high 7 rebounds, junior forward Spencer Coleman had 6, and Henderson grabbed 5.  Cherry added 7 assists and 3 steals.

Montana was without sophomore guard Jordan Gregory, who has started nine games so far this season.  Gregory was out due to a leg injury that he suffered in practice recently.

Cherry now has 342 career assists, passing Tony Reed (339 assists, 1985-89) for the ninth most in school history.

Junior guard Troy Huff led UND with 24 points, while Webb added 11.

Montana was 30-of-59 (50.8%) from the field, made 9-of-22 (40.9%) three-pointers, and was 8-of-10 from the line.  UND was 21-of-51 (41.2%) from the floor, made 4-of-18 (22.2%) treys and 16-of-21 (76.2%) charity shots.  UND made just 7-of-26 (26.9%) field goal attempts in the second half, while Montana made 16-of-31 (51.6%).  The Griz out-rebounded UND 34-30.

The win avenged an 88-81 overtime loss by the Griz to UND last season.  UND, now in its first season in the Big Sky, made 37 of 56 free throws (UM was 21-of-31) in its home win over UM last season.

The win boosted Tinkle’s Big Sky record to 71-30.  His 71st league win moves him up to second in school history, as he passed former mentor Blaine Taylor (70-34, 1991-98) for the second spot.  The all-time leader in Big Sky wins at Montana is Mike Montgomery, who was 73-39 from 1979-86.

The Grizzlies play the Northern Colorado Bears on Saturday, Jan. 12, in a 4:35 p.m. (Mtn.) game which will be televised on Altitude.  The Bears hosted Montana State this evening (Thursday, Jan. 10).

See the UM VS UND Box Score.