Breunig & Dunn Lead the Grizzlies in a 63-48 Win Over Bobcats

By DAVE GUFFEY | Photos by William Munoz

Forward Martin Breunig and guard Mario Dunn combined for 34 points and team defense was outstanding, as the University of Montana Grizzlies defeated the Montana State Bobcats 63-48 in the 290th match-up on the hardwood between the long-time rivals Saturday evening in UM’s Dahlberg Arena.

With the victory the Grizzlies improved to 4-1 in the Big Sky Conference and evened their overall mark to 8-8. MSU is now 0-5/3-13.

The Grizzlies got off to a fast start and took a 9-0 lead at the 15:25 mark of the first half on a jumper by Breunig. But, after that the Bobcats battled back, and shaved UM’s lead to one point at 11-10 on a lay-up by senior forward Blake Brumwell.

Montana out-scored MSU 18-9 the rest of the way in the low-scoring opening half, and took its first double-digit lead at 27-17 on a three-pointer by Dunn with 2:17 left in the stanza. The Griz would lead by 10 or more points after Dunn’s trey, and had a 29-19 advantage at halftime. Dunn, who tied his career-high with 17 points, scored 12 first-half points.

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Martin Breunig. Photo by ©William Munoz

The Grizzlies maintained a healthy lead throughout the second half, and their largest was 25 points (51-26), on a lay-up by sophomore guard Riley Bradshaw with 8:19 left to play. The Bobcats made a late run, and got within 14 points (51-37) when senior guard Michael Dison canned a three-point shot with 4:56 left to play.

Breunig matched Dunn with 17 points, and he also grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds to register his second double-double of the season. Dunn was just one short of a career-best with 8 rebounds.

“He’s special, a guy with his soft touch and feel offensively,” said Griz head coach Travis DeCuire on Breunig’s play. “He’s a guy who is becoming more confident as we go on. He struggled early in exhibition games and wasn’t sure how good he was. I think he’s starting to figure some things out. To be able to have someone like him at this level is special for anyone. I just think he’s rare.

“Rio’s a player, he’s won a lot of games in his high school career and college,’ said DeCuire about Dunn. “I think he realized they decided they were going to make him beat them and they helped off of him on Martin and left him open. He had good timing to jump up and knock down those first couple. He knows we want him to be aggressive. He’s picked and chooses when to take shots and when to go after it because he has good players around him.”

UM freshman forward Fabijan Krslovic added 8 points and tied his career-high with 9 rebounds. Sophomore guard Brandon Gfeller and Bradshaw chipped in 7 points apiece, and Gfeller had a career-high 5 steals.

“Once again, we’re talking about what do you do for us to help us win games,” said DeCuire about Gfeller. “He gets on the floor and dives on loose balls. He brings energy and he does things that gets guys to react to his energy. He’s important to us.”

Senior starting guard Jordan Gregory could not find his shooting touch and finished with a season-low 3 points, after having scored 20 or more points in seven of UM’s last 10 games.

BBQ“We’ve talked about winning games when guys aren’t on fire offensively,” DeCuire said. “To see Jordan struggle the way he did tonight with his jump shot and to be able to be up 10 at halftime was huge. I thought our effort and energy was there early. We paid attention to detail. We took away some strengths and some things they wanted to do and therefore minimized their opportunities. I think we’re showing a little more consistency defensively. I’d like to see us when we get up sustain it. I thought that Dison got loose a little bit and hit some threes late. Overall, a good effort.”

Dison was MSU’s only double-figure scorer with 17 points, while junior forward Danny Robison added 9. Senior forward Eric Norman led the Cats with 9 rebounds and he also had 6 blocks.

The Grizzlies were 23-of-52 (44.2%) from the floor, made 6-of-17 (353%) treys, and were 11-of-14 (78.6%) from the line. Montana out-rebounded MSU 41-34.

The Bobcats made 15-of-58 shots for just 25.9% – the lowest shooting percentage by an opponent this season. MSU was 7-of-28 (25.0%) from behind the arc and made 11-of-13 (84.6%) shots from the stripe.

The Griz are at home for a pair of conference games next week, hosting Northern Arizona on Thursday, Jan. 22, and Southern Utah on Saturday, Jan. 24. MSU also hosts the same two squads next week.

“It’s big time,” DeCuire said when asked about his first Griz-Cat game as UM’s head coach. “It’s a different perspective than as a player, not quite as emotional. It was a big deal for us to come in here and win this first one. There’s nothing worse than losing this game. It’s a long wait for the next one.