MISSOULA – With a 14-2 record in Big Sky Conference play, it’s hard to find a weakness on the Montana Grizzlies. But some have questioned the team’s depth. Head coach Travis DeCuire has stuck with his starters a lot this year, and only eight guys play regularly.
But Saturday night versus rival Montana State, the youngsters off the bench made a huge difference. Montana’s top three scores only combined for 33 points, with Jamar Akoh in foul trouble, and bad shooting nights from Ahmaad Rorie and Michael Oguine.
But sophomore Sayeed Pridgett and freshman Timmy Falls and Karl Nicholas combined for 41 points. Each bench player out-scored Montana State star Tyler Hall. Falls provided the key moments of the night late in the first half, turning a close game into a blowout quickly.
“Timmy has got a big heart, no fear. I think he put himself in all of the right spots,” said DeCuire. “I just thought that he was aggressive. And when the opportunity presented itself he took advantage of it. For a freshman it’s just hard to be consistent. But we knew he was capable of these types of games. That’s why we put him in there and leave him in there when we’re struggling a little bit offensively. We know that guys like him and Sayeed (Pridgett) have the ability to put the ball in the basket. Karl (Nicholas) can finish around the rim. And those guys gave us some big minutes in the first half.”
Montana won in more ways than one. Idaho took down Weber State 68-62. So now the Griz hold a two game lead in the Big Sky standings.
They will need to win only one of their final two games to clinch the regular season title. UM will host Weber State on Thursday night, and Idaho State on Saturday.