Grizzlies Defeat Host Portland State University 73-54

By DAVE GUFFEY

Guard Jordan Gregory became the 29th player in school history to score 1,000 career points and forward Martin Breunig added a game-high 23 points, as the University of Montana Grizzlies defeated the host Portland State Vikings 73-54 in a Big Sky Conference game in PSU’s Stott Center Thursday evening.

Montana upped its conference record to 7-1 (and 11-8 overall) with its sixth win in a row, and eighth victory in its last nine games. PSU is now 4-5 in league and 10-9 overall.

The Grizzlies’ win sets up a showdown against the first-place Sacramento State Hornets (8-1) this Saturday in California. Senior guard Mikh McKinney led the Hornets in a 75-59 win over visiting Montana State Thursday night.

The Vikings led early at 2-0 on a jumper by senior guard Gary Winston, but after that Breunig scored back-to-back baskets on a dunk and a jumper to give the Griz a 4-2 lead with 17:05 to go until halftime, and Montana led the rest of the way.

It was close throughout the opening half when Montana had eight-point leads on three different occasions, but PSU closed that gap and trailed just 32-31 at intermission.

The Grizzlies got off to a hot start in the second half, and out-scored the Vikings 11 to 2 in to take a 12-point (45-33) advantage with 16:07 remaining on a conventional three-point play by Breunig.

PSU stayed within range over the next several minutes, but when Montana went on another run, this time out-scoring the Vikes 21-7 over a nine-minute span, and when sophomore guard Brandon Gfeller canned a 3-pointer he upped the Griz lead to 65-40 with 6:50 left to play.

UM took its largest lead of 27 points twice, and the second time they led by that many was at 73-46 on a lay-up by Gregory with 4:04 left to play – and that bucket by Gregory, a senior from Pueblo, Colo., put him among Montana’s elite scorers as he joined the 1,000-point club.

“It’s a big moment for him, it’s a big moment for the team,” said Griz head coach Travis DeCuire about Gregory reaching the 1,000-point scoring mark. “These guys are excited to see him reach that point in his career. The points he scores from this point forward are big ones.”

Breunig made 10-of-16 shots and was 3-of-3 from the line and scored more than 20 points for the fifth time this season. Gregory added 15 points, followed by sophomore guard Mario Dunn and senior forward Mike Weisner, who added 12 points each.

Freshman forward Fabijan chipped in 8 points and tied Breunig for the team lead with 6 rebounds. Dunn had 6 assists and zero turnovers, along with 2 steals in 27 minutes. UM edged PSU 29-26 on the boards.

cornholeThe Griz shot the ball very well and played stellar defense. Montana was 28-of-51 (54.9%) from the floor, made 10-of-20 treys, and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the line. The Vikings were 17-of-46 (37.0%) from the field, made 6-of-16 (37.5%) 3-pointers, and were 14-of-18 (77.8%) from the stripe. UM had 22 assists and 12 turnovers, and had just 3 TOs in the secondhalf.

“We were forcing some stuff,” said DeCuire. “We had some open guys and we took one or two dribbles too many. We weren’t sharing the ball the way we should have in the first half. A little more intensity, we were a little more fired up. We knew our defense could win the game for us. We played them straight up and that led to some turnovers (the Griz out-scored the Vikings 13-1 on points on turnovers in the second half) and got us better offensive opportunities.”

“I just think they have a perimeter-oriented team – their guards are their leading scorers,” DeCuire said. “Their posts are drivers more. We took away their driving lanes, so the only shots they had were jump shots. They’re not back-to-the-basket guys. We took away what they were looking to do.”

Senior guard DaShaun Wiggins was PSU’s only double-figure scorer with 17 points, while junior center Collin Spickerman had a game-high 7 rebounds.

“I expected a lot closer game,” DeCuire said. “They are a good team. I just think that tonight our guys played really well and executed the game plan, and took care of things on both sides of the ball. You like to look at it that way. It kind of takes the pressure off a little bit, but at the end of the day we’re playing for first place.”

The Griz-Hornets game tips off at 8:05 p.m. (Mtn.) in The Nest at Colberg Court. PSU hosts the Bobcats on Saturday.

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