Montana Edges Host Bengals 59-54


Guard Mario Dunn connected on a big three-pointer with 1:04 seconds to go to give the University of Montana Grizzles the lead for good in an exciting, 59-54 come-from,-behind win over the Idaho State Bengals in a Big Sky Conference contest Thursday evening in ISU’s Reed Gym.

The Bengals (3-4 Big Sky/6-10 overall) had taken a 54-52 lead with 1:36 remaining on a steal and fast-break lay-up by senior guard Andre Hatchett.  But, on UM’s next possession Dunn, a true freshman from Oakland  who was making his second career start, canned the crucial trey from the left side of the court he gave the Griz a 55-54 edge and the game-winning point(s).

The game featured eight lead changes and three ties.  It was Montana’s eight win in a row over ISU.

The Grizzlies (3-4/8-8) preserved the victory thanks to four clutch free throws by junior guards Keron DeShields and Jordan Gregory.  First it was DeShields converting two crucial charity shots in a one-and-one situation with 29.2 seconds left, giving UM a 57-54 lead.  Then DeShields converted his one-and-one opportunity with a pair of free throws, and the Griz led 59-54 with 5.8 seconds left to play.

ISU took a double-figure lead in the second half with 9:38 left on a three-pointer by junior guard/forward Chris Hansen, which gave the Bengals a 44-34 advantage.  However, the Griz made their comeback bid after Hansen’s trey, going on a 9-0 run, and cut the Bengal lead to 44-43 on a three-pointer by Gregory with 6:51 remaining.

“That was a heck of a comeback by our team and a great finish,” said head coach Wayne Tinkle on the post-game show on KGVO Radio.  “We got some timely shots from Jordan, from Mike (Weisner) and from Brandon (Gfeller), and of course ‘JG’ (Gregory).

“And how about Mario,” Tinkle continued.  “We took him out there for quite awhile, and then he goes in the game after sitting and hits that big three-pointer for us.  It was a great team win for us – which we needed.  It was a chemistry builder.”

The Grizzlies jumped to an early 10-point lead in the opening minutes, as DeShields connected on a three-pointer to give UM a 14-4 advantage with 15:28 to go until intermission.  However, ISU made a run of its own, out-scoring UM 13-2 over the next seven minutes, and took a 17-16 lead with 7:44 left until the break.  ISU went on to take a 30-21 lead at halftime.

Gregory scored a game-high 21 points (16 in the second half), going 7-of-14 from the floor, 5-of-9 from behind the arc, and made his only two free throw attempts, and he also pulled down 6 boards.  DeShields added 13 points and was 4-of-5 from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point range.   Dunn scored 8 points.

Junior forward Chris Kemp tied his career-high with a team-high 7 rebounds.  Senior guard/forward Kareem Jamar was held to 7 points – the first time this season he was not scored in double figures, but he dished out 9 assists, and also had 6 rebounds and 3 steals.

The Griz were a solid 12-of-26 (46.2%) from three-point range for the game, and made 8-of-15 (53.3%) treys in the second half.  ISU had a 32-30 edge on the boards.

Montana continues its four-game league road trip this Saturday, Jan. 25, playing pre-season favorite Weber State.  The Wildcats defeating visiting Montana State 86-57 this evening, as all five starters scored in double figures.