Montana 70, at Sac State 55


The University of Montana had 10 players break into the scoring column, and junior guard Jordan Gregory was deadly from 3-point range, as the Grizzlies defeated the host Sacramento State Hornets 70-55 Thursday evening in a critical Big Sky Conference game for both teams.

The win improved Montana’s league record to 12-7 (17-11 overall) and guarantees the Grizzlies a berth in next week’s Big Sky tourney, which will be hosted by Weber State in Ogden, Utah, March 13-15.

The Hornets, who had won their last seven Big Sky homes games in a row, are now 9-10 in conference play and fighting for their playoff lives.

“I am super proud of our guys tonight,” said Griz head coach Wayne Tinkle on the post-game radio show on KGVO Radio.  “Our guys came out focused and ready to go, and we really defended well.”

The Griz shot a blistering 63.0% (17-of-27) from the field in the first half, and held the Hornets to just 36.4% (8of-22), and out-scored Sac 18-2 in points off of turnovers (Sac had 11 TOs in the first half, while UM had 4), and the result was a 43-24 halftime lead by Montana.

Montana maintained its double-digit lead for the first 10-plus minutes of the second half, but Sac State came within nine at 9:15 left to play on a dunk by senior forward Jordan Salley.  But, the Griz regained a 10-point advantage on their next possession, when guard Mario Dunn made one of two free throws to give UM a 54-44 lead, and Montana led by 10 or more points the rest of the way.

The Grizzlies ended up out-scoring the Hornets 21-7 on points off 15 turnovers (the Griz had 9 total TOs) in the game, and Montana’s bench out-scored Sac’s by a whopping 20 points, 33-13.

Gregory scored a team-high 18 points, all from 3-point range, and was 6-of-10 from behind the arc, and his six made treys tied a career-high.  Senior guard/forward Kareem Jamar added 10 and 4 assists, while junior guard Keron DeShields scored 10 points and led UM with 5 rebounds.

Dunn and junior forward Mike Weisner chipped in 7 points each, while freshman guard Riley Bradshaw tallied a career-high 5, and junior forward Chris Kemp also scored 5 points.

“We got some guys off the bench give us a great boost, and Riley has a career-high and how about Gfeller’s dunk –  and Jordan hit some big shots for us,” Tinkle said.  “It was as total team win.  I am so proud of the way Kareem played.  He showed great patience; made some big plays for us, and showed great leadership.”

Montana jumped out to a 17-point lead at 32-15 with a little over six minutes to go in the opening half, thanks to a 3-pointer by Bradshaw and a lay-up by Kemp.  The Griz took their biggest lead of the game at 19 points when DeShields scored on a lay-up with four seconds to go until the break, as UM took a 43-24 lead at intermission.

Montana shot 54.3% (25-of-46) from the field in the game, made 8-of-20 (40.0%) treys, and was 12-of-17 (70.6%) from the line.  The Hornets made 20-of-43 (46.5%) shots, were limited to 5-of-16 (31.3%) on 3-point attempts, and were 10-of-15 (66.7%) shots from the stripe.  Sac had a 28-25 rebounding edge.

The Hornets were led by Dylan Garrity’s 18 points, while fellow junior guard Mikh McKinney added 10.

The Griz play their final regular-season game of the season at Northern Arizona (11-8 in league) on Saturday, March 8, in a 3:05 p.m. tip-off.  The Jacks defeated Montana State 61-48 this evening.  The Hornets host the Bobcats (9-10) on Saturday.