Sayeed Pridgett scored a game high 19 points in Montana's win at Southern Utah - MTN Sports photo

Story from Montana Sports Information

The Montana Grizzlies men’s basketball team (1-5) earned its Thanksgiving turkey, hanging tough with the SEC’s Ole Miss Rebels (5-1) until the final buzzer, falling 86-81 in Oxford, Miss.

The Griz shot 33 three-pointers, sinking eight in the second half to chip away at an 18-point Rebel lead, cutting it to five in the closing minutes, giving themselves a chance to win the only college basketball game in the nation that wasn’t part of a tournament.

Sayeed Pridgett led the Griz with 19 points, 17 of which came in the second half, keeping the Griz in the game as the rest of the team suffered a bout of cold shooting, as UM finished with 38 percent from the field.

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The Rebels shot over 45 percent from the field, however, and 42 percent from three-point land as guard Neal Cullen and Terence Davis combined to go 8-12 on threes to lead the charge for Ole Miss, who also held a size advantage in the post.

“You’re playing against a team that’s really athletic, and it’s difficult to score at the basket,” said Montana head coach Travis DeCuire. “Unfortunately, they shot a better percentage from three than we did and there’s the difference.”

Ahmaad Rorie drained a three-pointer at the buzzer to finish with 18 points, and Jack Lopez went 5-of-8 from behind the arc for 17 points, keeping the Griz alive through cold spells in the first half.

“We just went long stretches in the first half where we couldn’t make baskets and then had a lull in the second half, and next thing you know you’re a stop-and-score away from this thing,” added DeCuire. “We just couldn’t get those baskets to go in at about the two-minute mark, and there you go.”

Montana finished with three players in double figures and three more knocking on the door with Bobby Moorehead and Walter Wright each netting eight, and Fabijan Krslovic three points shy of a double-double at seven points.

While Pridgett and Lopez were led the way on the offensive side of the ball, Rorie played stifling defense on top of his 18-point haul, holding the SEC’s leading scorer Deandre Burnett, who scored 40 against Oral Roberts at the Paradise Jam, to just two points in the first half.

The loss puts Montana at 1-3 during the five-game, 8,000-mile road trip that concludes on Sunday in Vermillion, South Dakota against the Coyotes.

“We’re growing, we’re getting better,” added DeCuire. “I think we’re better than we were Monday, better than when we got to St. Thomas on Thursday, and that’s the whole point of this trip.”

Montana and South Dakota tip off at noon (MT) on Sunday in Vermillion.