Jamar Leads Griz in 69-61 Win at SUU

By DAVE GUFFEY for GoGriz.com

Senior Kareem Jamar made the best of his 100th career start, as he scored a game-high 25 points to lead the University of Montana Grizzlies to a 69-61 Big Sky Conference win over the host Southern Utah Thunderbirds Thursday evening in Centrum Arena.

It was by no means an easy victory for Montana, but the Griz used a much more efficient shooting effort in the second half to improve to 4-5 in league and 9-9 overall.  The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, suffered their 17th loss in a row, going to 0-9 in the conference and 1-17 overall.

The Thunderbirds took their seventh and final lead of the contest with 5:16 remaining at 52-51 on a lay-up by forward Casey Oliverson.  The Griz re-took the lead for good at 53-52, on a pair of free throws by sophomore center Andy Martin with 4:57 left to play.

After Martin’s charity shots, he Griz out-scored the T-Birds 11 to 4 over the next four-plus minutes, and  when Martin blocked a shot it led to a fastbreak lay-up by junior guard Keron DeShields, as UM took an eight point (64-56) lead with 1:08 to go.  It was a free throw contest after that, but SUU never got any closer than seven points (UM’s lead was 68-61, with 17 seconds left).

Montana overcame a cold first half of shooting by making 13-of-20 (65.0%) shots from the floor and 5-of-7 treys (71.4%) in the final 20 minutes.  In the opening half UM made just 7-of-22 (31.8%) field goal tries and 2-of-9 (22.2%) three-pointers.

“It’s never a thing of beauty when we play these guys, but I am proud of our effort – we really had some guys step up,” said UM head coach Wayne Tinkle on KGVO Radio on his post-game show.  “Kareem was huge for us, scoring the ball and passing the ball.  Kareem was just Kareem.  Jordan Gregory did a great job defensively on (sophomore forward A.J., who had 8 points ) Hess.  I am super proud of JG (Gregory) for that.  It was a good, gusty win for us when we were not at our best.”

True freshman guard Mario Dunn was a key to Montana’s success in the opening minutes of the second half, scoring nine points and making two steals, and his steal and lay-up with 15:38 to go gave the Griz a 34-33 edge.   SUU had led 25-22 at halftime.

Jamar, a 6-5 guard/forward from Venice, Calif., was 7-of-12 from the floor, made 3-of-4 treys, and went 8-of-13 from the line, and also had a team-high 5 assists.  It was Jamar’s eighth game of the season of  scoring 20 or more points.  He made 4-of-4 shots in the second half and scored 14 points.

Also in double figures for the Griz were junior guard Jordan Gregory with 15, DeShields had 12, and Dunn added 11.  Gregory tallied 13 points in the second half, while Dunn had all 11 of his points in the final stanza.  Martin led UM with 4 rebounds and he also had two blocks and two assists.

Jamar now has 372 career assists, which moves him into a tie with former Griz great M.R. Richardson (372, 1974-78) for the fifth most all-time.  Jamar passed Marc Glass who was ranked sixth on the career list with 369 assists from 1980-84.

True freshman guard Trey Kennedy, SUU’s leading scorer, led the T-Birds with 17 points, 11 of them coming from the line.  Oliverson, a 6-8 sophomore, added 14 points and grabbed a game-high 7 rebounds.

The Grizzlies conclude a four-game league road trip, playing the Montana State Bobcats in Bozeman on Monday, Feb. 3.  The Griz-Cat game will be televised on Altitude TV.  The Thunderbirds host the Bobcats this coming Saturday, Feb. 1.

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