(Story by Griz Communications)
MISSOULA – Montana only trailed Saturday night for 1 minute, 43 seconds, but after holding a 12-point lead with 7:14 to play, Eastern Washington came storming back, using a 14-2 run to tie the game at 68-68.
The two teams alternated points over the next 3 minutes, seeing ties at 70-70, 72-72 and 74-74.
Then, with the game tied and under 30 seconds to play, Michael Oguine was fouled driving to the basket. He made the second free throw to give the Griz the lead, and then it was time for Montana to do what it does best: Lock-down defense.
Eastern Washington ran the clock down. The Eagles would take the final shot and either win or lose with it. The ball was in their play-maker’s hands, the defending Big Sky Player of the Week. Jacob Davison drove to the hoop but his floater was soft, and Donaven Dorsey secured the rebound for a 75-74 Griz victory.
The win was the 100th for head coach Travis DeCuire, who is 100-55 in four-plus seasons. He is the fifth coach in UM history to reach the milestone number, and the third-fastest to do so.
Sayeed Pridgett led the Griz for the second straight night, scoring 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting before fouling out with 5:17 to play. Dorsey was once again in double figures (16), as was Bobby Moorehead, who recorded his second career double-double with 13 points and 10 boards, in addition to defending Davison on the game’s final play. Oguine finished with 11 points, including seven over the final 2:25 once EWU tied the score. He scored Montana’s final seven points.
- Montana has won a season-best seven consecutive games dating back to Jan. 12.
- DeCuire becomes the fifth coach in UM history to reach 100 career wins, doing it faster than all but College Basketball Hall of Famer Mike Montgomery and his former coach Blaine Taylor.
- Despite coming down to the wire, EWU’s only lead came at the 17:17 mark of the first half. The Eagles briefly took an 8-7 lead before Moorehead responded with a three-pointer.
- Leading by just two, 15-13 with 11:30 to play in the opening half, Montana used a 9-1 run to open up a double-digit lead.
- After averaging 4.5 points per game through his first 17 games as a Griz, Dorsey is averaging 14.3 over the past three games, scoring in double figures each time.
- Pridgett narrowly missed a double-double with 19 points and nine boards. On the week, he averaged 20.0 points on 16-of-19 shooting.
- Moorehead knocked down a season-most four three-pointers. His 10 rebounds – nine of which came in the first half – were a season high. He also had two blocked shots.
- Oguine is now at 1,499 career points. His next basket will move him into seventh place, ahead of Wayne Tinkle, on the school’s all-time scoring list.
- Ahmaad Rorie, despite scoring just 10 points in two games this week, had 10 assists and just one turnover.
- EWU was held to 33.3 percent shooting in the first half (9-of-27).
- The Grizzlies were playing without all-conference forward Jamar Akoh, who suffered an injury during the Idaho game. Dorsey earned the start in Akoh’s absence.
- Montana is guaranteed to finish at least .500, doing so each season under DeCuire.
- Montana has won 23 of its past 24 games inside Dahlberg Arena.
(on the final 3 minutes of the game)
“I was screaming for one stop for the last 3 minutes of the game. We got it at the end, thank goodness for Bobby Moorehead. They run a good offense and have good players. It turned into a one-on-one game with Sayeed (Pridgett) out.”
(on the final play)
“Usually in that circumstance I’ll send a guy and try to trap them. The problem is, the guy I wanted to send was guarding their best shooter. I figured let’s just play it out and hopefully Bob (Moorehead) could slide his feet well enough and keep him in front of him.”
(on Moorehead stepping up)
“He’s a gamer. The key, we said with Jamar (Akoh) being out, is someone had to step up on the glass, and he and Sayeed (Pridgett) did a phenomenal job. It was difficult for Bob because he was guarding the perimeter most of the night.”
(on Oguine scoring the final seven Griz points)
“He’s got thick skin in those scenarios. He’s come through in these types of games. He was at his best and made it happen.”
(on his 100th win)
“I’m fortunate. All of those guys, there’s a blueprint in terms of style of play that we all play off of and each guy’s put his own little flavor to it. I’m just fortunate to be on the staff of two of those guys and play for two of them as well. At the end of the day it’s always who you surround yourself with, and that’s our staff and the phenomenal basketball players on this roster.”
Just a few weeks after Montana and Weber State battled in Missoula, the two teams will clash once again, this time on Valentine’s Day in Ogden. Weber State has lost three of its past five games, but still sits in third place in the Big Sky standings at 9-4.