(Editor’s note: University of Montana athletics release)
MISSOULA – – In a heavy-weight showdown between two of the top teams in the Big Sky Conference, Montana took down first-place Weber State on Saturday night, 75-68.
Montana scored the game’s first eight points, and then once Weber State closed to within two, 12-10, Montana went on another run, this time a season-long 20-0 spurt.
During the stretch, Montana’s defense flustered the league’s top scoring offense, holding the Wildcats to 0-of-11 shooting and five turnovers during a run of 8 minutes, 29 seconds. The Wildcats got within two possessions several times in the second half, but each time Montana kept them at bay, never trailing.
Senior forward Jamar Akoh was a force down low all night, scoring a game-high 25 points, in addition to 10 rebounds and two steals. As a team, Montana produced 13 turnovers, turning them into 25 points. The Grizzlies turned the ball over just six times – tying a season low – with Weber State failing to score a single point off of a Griz turnover.
• Weber State entered the contest averaging a league-best 82.9 points per game (27th in NCAA). The Wildcats were held 15 points below their season average, scoring their fewest points since Dec. 15 vs. Utah Valley.
• Montana tied a season low with six turnovers. Over the past three games, the Grizzlies have turned the ball over single digits each game, averaging 7.0.
• WSU’s Brekkott Chapman, who averages a double-double, was held to six points (2-of-10 shooting). He didn’t make his first basket until 5 minutes remained in the game.
• Montana has not trailed since the 16-minute mark of the first half at Idaho (116 consecutive minutes).
• The crowd of 5,547 was the largest regular-season attendance for a non-Montana State game since Jan. 25, 2013 vs. Weber State.
• Five different Grizzlies had multiple assists.
• During Montana’s 20-0 run, seven different Grizzlies scored, with no player scoring more than four points.
• At one point in the second half, Akoh scored 12 consecutive Griz points, turning a five-point lead into a 63-51 advantage with 9 minutes to play.
• Joining Akoh in double figures was Ahmaad Rorie (13) and Sayeed Pridgett (12).
• In addition to strong perimeter defense, Timmy Falls had a career-high six rebounds, plus two assists and a steal.
• For the first time this season, Montana won while shooting a lower percentage from the field (49.1 percent to 45.8 percent).
• For the first time in 10 games, Montana was out-rebounded, with WSU edging UM 35-33.
• After missing Thursday’s game with a back injury, Michael Oguine returned to the starting lineup, scoring seven points in 26 minutes of action.
• Montana has won 22 of its last 23 games inside Dahlberg Arena, dating back to February 2017.
• Montana has now defeated Weber State three consecutive times. The Grizzlies and Wildcats are the top-two teams in the Big Sky conference for all-time wins, conference championship and NCAA tournament berths.
Quoting head coach Travis DeCuire
(on the crowd support)
“The community was excited and looking forward to this one. It was an energetic crowd, and it was helpful. There were some times down the stretch where they were trying to make some moves and the crowd got going. I though they intimidated them a little bit.”
(on Montana’s defense during the team’s 20-0 run)
“We took away their ball-screen action, which is their motion. It’s their go-to. The way we defended is different than pretty much anyone else in the conference. We figured if we kept them out of the middle of the floor then we’d be fine.”
(on Akoh’s success down low)
“We got to the point where they picked up some fouls and we wanted to keep going at them. They’re a very physical team and we kind of used their physicality against them. When we get Jamar going, once that hoop gets big to him, you’ve got to just give it to him and let him go and ride him until he gets tired. Get him out and get him back in.”
(on holding WSU’s Brekkott Chapman to 2-of-10 shooting)
“Brekkott gets his shots out of their motion offense and the way we defended, those shots weren’t available.”
(on the pace of the game)
“We had some moments where pushing the ball was to our advantage, but then our shot selection was bad, and that’s how they dug into our 20-point lead. Eventually, we wanted to hurry up and get down the floor, but don’t hurry up once we get down there because we were going to Jamar.”
(on his team’s four-game winning streak following back-to-back losses)
“It’s been an incredible learning experience for us. You look back at those two games and you don’t feel like you should have lost either of them. I think we’ve learned, I think we’re maturing. We aren’t perfect, but we’re getting better.”
Montana, with several banged up bodies, will enjoy a full week before taking on rival Montana State, Saturday at 7 p.m. in Bozeman. The Grizzlies have won 15 of the past 16 against the Bobcats.