Pridgett’s big night leads Grizzlies to sweep over Wildcats

By NIC HALLISEY for GoGriz.com

It was fitting that with the game on the line and under a minute to play, it was Sayeed Pridgett who scored the game-winning basket. The reigning Big Sky Conference Player of the Week had been a force all night, setting career highs for points (29) and rebounds (16), but it was his last bucket that sealed the deal.

Once in front by 20, Weber State had trimmed Montana’s lead to a single point, 79-78, with 57 seconds to play. Needing a score in the worst of ways, Ahmaad Rorie fed the ball to the junior on the in-bounds play, who spun around his defender to push Montana’s lead back up to three. Following a WSU basket on the other end, Kendal Manuel iced the game with two clutch free throws, giving Montana a big road win over third-place Weber State.

The 83-80 win is Montana’s seventh in a row overall, and seventh in its past eight road games dating back to Dec. 22. It marks the first time since 1992 that the Grizzlies have earned a regular-season sweep over the Wildcats.

Photo Courtesy of Grizzly Athletics/Weber StateAthletics

In addition to Pridgett’s double-double – the third of his career – Montana got 17 points from Michael Oguine, who eclipsed 1,500 career points. Manuel was spectacular as well, scoring 16 points, while Rorie moved back into double figures with 13 points and four assists.

Game Notables

  • Despite being a one-point game with under 1 minute to play, Montana only trailed for 32 seconds, when Weber State scored the opening basket of the game. During Montana’s seven-game winning streak, the Grizzlies have trailed for just 14 minutes.
  • Montana out-rebounded Weber State 41-28. During the January matchup between the two teams, the Wildcats out-rebounded Montana by one, the only time in the past 14 games the Grizzlies have been out-rebounded.
  • Of Montana’s 41 rebounds, 12 were on the offensive glass, leading to a 16-2 advantage on second-chance points.
  • The Grizzlies made 18 of 22 free-throw attempts, the second-highest percentage of the season (81.8 percent). Down the stretch, Montana made 11 of its final 12 attempts from the charity stripe, including five in a row over the final 4:41.
  • Leading to his career-high 29 points, Pridgett made seven of his first nine attempts from the floor. He was 3-for-3 from three-point range, and has made five treys in a row over the past two games.
  • Over the past three games, Pridgett is averaging 23.0 points and 9.7 rebounds per game while shooting .730. He has led Montana in scoring all three times.
  • Oguine (5,016) moved into seventh place on Montana’s all-time scoring list, passing Wayne Tinkle.
  • Montana began the game on a 13-4 run, with Pridgett scoring nine of Montana’s first 11 points.
  • Leading 17-11, the Grizzlies used a 9-0 run to push the lead to 26-11.
  • With 3 minutes remaining in the first half, Montana was doubling up the Wildcats, 40-20.
  • Montana has won seven of its past eight true road games dating back to Dec. 22.
  • Montana has now beat Weber State four consecutive times dating back to the 2016-17 season.
  • The Grizzlies won in Ogden for just the third time in the past 15 tries.
  • Montana swept Weber State in the regular season for the first time since 1992, when Travis DeCuire was a player.
  • Montana was without senior forward Jamar Akoh for the second consecutive game (knee).

Quoting DeCuire
(on overcoming adversity)
“Adversity toughens your heart, and that’s all I talked about in pregame. We’ve been through a lot and we’re prepared to go to battle through adversity, through change, through unexpected situations. We’ve just got to make the most of it, and the hustle chart’s going to win this game for us, and that’s what we did.”

(on Pridgett’s career performance)
“I’ve been hard on him for a couple years trying to get him to do things a certain way. He’s always been talented; we saw him score 20 as a freshman. He walked into my office in April and asked for trust. We’ve always talked about how that goes two ways. I said, ‘You’ve got it, but you know what comes with that, a level of expectation.’ He’s owned it as well as probably anyone I’ve coached.”

(on staying calm as Weber State made its runs)
“Three years ago I would have gone into those huddles and tried to use my intensity to create energy and toughness, but now that I have my guys, we’ve been hardened, either through life before we came to Montana, or practice every day. Now I need to be calm and give them confidence and stick to the script and let them be the one with the fire.”

(on Manuel’s night)
“I think the thing that stood out the most is how well he defended. There were times he slid one extra slide and gave up his body and prevented guys from getting to the rim.”

(on having so many weapons)
“That’s what’s special about this group right now. Everyone knows that everyone’s not going to be the guy every night, but when my number’s called I’ll be ready.”

Looking Ahead
Montana will bus to Pocatello, Idaho on Friday, before facing Idaho State Saturday night (7 p.m.). The Bengals lost to Montana State on Thursday night, 84-76.