UM’s Ward Will Miss the Rest of the Basketball Season


Forward Mathias Ward, who was injured on Feb 16 in The University of Montana’s 61-54 road win at Idaho State, had surgery this morning (Wednesday, March 6), and will miss the rest of the season.

A 6-7, 228-pound senior from Gig Harbor, Wash.,Ward had started the first 24 games of the season for the Grizzlies.  He is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 14.8 points a game, which ranks him fifth in the Big Sky Conference.  He is also ranked among the conference leaders in free throw percentage (sixth, 81.7%) and field goal percentage (51.0%).  He was named the Big Sky’s “Player of the Week” twice this season (Nov. 26 and Dec. 24).

“It was a deal where we were thinking about his future and getting that surgery done so that he might have opportunities to play in the future,”said Griz head coach Wayne Tinkle.  “It’s just too bad it had to happen late in the season in his senior year.  We will definitely miss him out on the floor.

“But we’ve been pleased with the guys who have stepped up in his absence, guys like Mike (Weisner) and Spencer (Coleman), ” Tinkle said.  “He’ll (Ward) be out there in spirit and with us on the bench, trying to help us motivate the guys.  He obviously has meant a lot to our team, and he’s been instrumental in the amount of games that we’ve won (the Griz have 89 victories so far from his freshman year of the 2010 season to this season) in his four years along with Will (Cherry, UM’s senior point guard).  He will certainly be missed – that’s for sure.”

Ward was a starter on Montana’s conference champion and NCAA team of a year ago that went 25-7, and UM’s third leading scorer (10.9 ppg) that season.  He averaged 21.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in UM’s wins over Eastern Washington and Weber State in the Big Sky’s 2012 post-season tournament, and was named to the all-tournament team.

Ward played in 118 career games (55 starts), and scored 933 career points and grabbed 324 career rebounds.  He was a very proficient shooter, with a career field goal percentage of 52.4%, and he shot 79.1% from the line in his career.

Ward and Cherry (who is also dealing with an injury), will both be recognized on “Senior Night,” prior to UM’s home game against Northern Arizona, this Saturday, March 9.