(Editor’s note: story by Montana Sports Information)
OMAHA, NE – Montana and Creighton featured a matchup of two of the top shooting teams in the country, and the Grizzlies and Bluejays did not disappoint, shooting a combined 58.0 percent from the floor and 51.2 percent from beyond the arc on Wednesday night.
While Montana’s offense was clicking for much of the evening, Creighton’s was on another level, leading to a 98-72 victory in front of 16,457 fans.
Creighton (6-1) made its first eight shot attempts and was shooting 71 percent from the floor 14 minutes into the game. Despite the hot shooting, the visiting Grizzlies (4-2) held the lead late in the first half, behind back-to-back three-pointers from Sayeed Pridgett and Kendal Manuel.
Pridgett was unstoppable in the first half, scoring 21 points, on 8-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. The junior had five combined three-point makes in his career entering the night. Pridgett also had two steals in the first half and five in the game.
Montana was within two points, 40-38, with 3:46 remaining in the first half before the Bluejays went on a 9-2 run to close the half. They extended the run into the second half, scoring the period’s first eight points.
• Montana made at least half of its shots for the fifth consecutive game (26-of-47, 55.3 percent), increasing its season shooting percentage. The Grizzlies entered the contest ranked eighth nationally.
• The Grizzlies made 47.1 percent of their three-point attempts (8-of-17), narrowly missing their season-best mark of 47.4 percent vs. Miami (Ohio).
• Montana had two players score 20-plus points for the first time since the 2018 Big Sky quarterfinals vs. North Dakota. Pridgett finished with 23 points while Michael Oguine scored 21 on 8-of-11 shooting.
o Of Pridgett’s 23 points, 21 came in the first half. He had more than half of Montana’s first-half points, and at one point had scored 13 of the team’s 18. Pridgett made his only field-goal attempt in the second half.
o Pridgett entered the contest 5-of-28 (17.8 percent) from three-point range for his career, before shooting 4-of-5 from beyond the arc on Wednesday.
o Oguine scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half, including a stretch in which he scored eight consecutive Griz points.
o Oguine had nine of Montana’s 20 rebounds.
• Creighton made its first eight shots from the floor (5-for-5 from three-point range). Despite that, the Grizzlies trailed just 21-18 nearly 9 minutes into the game thanks to five forced turnovers.
• Montana used a 7-0 run to take a 32-30 lead. Manuel’s three-pointer gave the Griz the lead (31-30) and was the team’s sixth three-point make on eight attempts. After starting 9-of-10 from the floor, Creighton missed six of its next seven attempts during the Griz run.
• Senior Ahmaad Rorie was held to eight points on 2-of-8 shooting, just the eighth time in 71 career games as a Griz he has not been in double figures.
• Redshirt freshman Kelby Kramer saw 13 minutes of action – 10 in the second half – before fouling out with three points and one blocked shot.
• The game was played in front of 16,457 fans, the second-largest crowd Montana has ever played in front of, and the largest in a true road environment.
• The 98 points scored by Creighton were the most scored by a Griz opponent since Dec. 10, 2014 (Davidson, 110). Creighton improved to 5-1 and is receiving top-25 votes in both major polls.
• Montana forced eight steals but converted Creighton’s 12 turnovers into just 11 points. Creighton forced 14 turnovers and scored 29 points off of them. Creighton turned the ball over just twice in the second half, including zero times through the first 13 minutes.
• Montana was hurt from the free-throw line, making just 12 of 22 attempts (54.5 percent).
• Montana was without starter Jamar Akoh for the fifth consecutive game and key reserve Timmy Falls for the second game in a row.
(on a tough defensive night)
“For us, the biggest thing is our attention to detail and our discipline. I think we had some stretches where our mental toughness was challenged, and we didn’t respond very well.”
“Our stats offensively were good, but we needed to scrap, and right now I don’t feel like we’re grinding the way we should grind defensive possessions.”
(on Montana’s 7-0 run to take a lead late in the first half)
“We made some adjustments. They came out ready for the traps and the ball screens, which we knew they would, so we made a couple adjustments to go to some coverages which were working. I just don’t think we were handling success very well. We were posturing after made shots instead of sprinting back on defense, which led to fouls. You just can’t win games giving up 60 percent from the floor, 54 percent from three.”
(on Pridgett’s strong first half and Oguine’s second half)
“They were all good shots (talking about Pridgett). Every one of them was inside out, an extra pass on the rotation that was an example of how we move the ball. Right now we’re taking turns. If we can get two or three guys going at the same time, we can be a pretty good basketball team.”
(on the team’s lack of depth)
“We had freshmen trying to execute our ball-screen coverage that aren’t very experienced and are playing in front of 17,000 people. Then, no low-post presence to throw the ball into forces us to create a lot of bounce, and I think our lack of patience was the biggest issue.”
“Our biggest thing right now is our mental toughness defensively and our discipline. We have rules that we play by on both sides of the ball, and right now we’re not sticking to them. We have too many guys right now that think there are too many exceptions to the rules, and quite a few guys are playing a lot of minutes regardless of how well they play or execute, and it’s hard to hold guys accountable when you’re so thin. Until we can solve that, we’re going to continue to struggle.”
Montana returns home for the first time in three weeks, hosting the College of Idaho on Monday evening.