(Editor’s note: Story by Montana Sports Information)
MISSOULA – Montana earned yet another season sweep over rival Montana State on Saturday night, leading from start to finish for an 89-83 win in front of a sold-out Dahlberg Arena crowd. The victory gets the Grizzlies to 20 wins on the season and one step closer to another Big Sky Conference regular-season title.
Junior Sayeed Pridgett lobbed an alley-oop pass to Michael Oguine just 15 seconds into the contest, and the Grizzlies never looked back, building an 8-0 lead. The Griz led by double digits less than 7 minutes into the game and by as many as 17.
Similar to the first meeting in Bozeman, though, Montana State didn’t back down, cutting the score to a single score, 84-81, with under 2 minutes to play. On the next trip up the court, Ahmaad Rorie buried a three-pointer to push the lead back to six, and Kendal Manuel made a pair of free throws down the stretch to ice the game.
Pridgett scored a team-high 20 points, his third consecutive game with at least 20 points. He was one of five Grizzlies in double figures for scoring, including Manuel (19), Rorie (18), Donaven Dorsey (16) and Oguine (11). In addition to his 18 points, Rorie dished out eight assists compared to just one turnover.
Montana shot 55.7 percent from the floor, including 50.0 percent from deep, knocking down a season-high 15 three-pointers.
-Montana has won 10 consecutive games dating back to Jan. 12, tied for the seventh-longest winning streak in school history.
-Montana reached 20 victories for the fourth time in five seasons under Travis DeCuire.
-The game was played in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 7,000 fans.
-Montana built an 8-0 lead and never trailed in the contest. During the 10-game winning streak, Montana has trailed for less than 8 percent of game action.
-The Grizzlies tallied a season-high-tying 23 assists, with 15 of them coming from Ahmaad Rorie (8) and Bobby Moorehead (7).
-Montana made 50.0 percent of its three-point attempts, knocking down a season-high 15.
-Six of Montana’s first nine made field goals were three-pointers, helping the Griz jump out to a 24-13 advantage.
-Three different players made at least four treys, with Kendal Manuel (5-for-6), Donaven Dorsey (4-for-7) and Rorie (4-for-7) combining to go 13-of-20 (.650).
-Over his past two games, Manuel is 11-of-13 (.846) from deep. Over his past three games, he is averaging 18.3 points per game.
-Sayeed Pridgett continued his unreal stretch. Over his past five games the junior is averaging 22.2 points per game on .706 shooting.
-In addition to his 18 points, Rorie had eight assists to just one turnover. He also had a team-best seven rebounds.
-Dorsey scored 16 points, including six of Montana’s first 13 to jump out to an early lead. Over his past three home games, he is averaging 16.3 points per game.
-Moorehead had a career-high seven assists, also adding six rebounds, one blocked shot and a team-best two steals.
-UM and MSU have the top-two offenses in the Big Sky and it showed, with both teams shooting better than 50 percent overall and 60 percent in the second half.
-At the half, Montana was out-rebounding Montana State 22-11, with half of its boards coming on the offensive glass. Overall, the Grizzlies won the rebounding battle 28-25.
-The Grizzlies only shot eight free throws (second-lowest of the season), but made six of them, including two down the stretch to seal the victory.
-Montana beat Montana State for the 17th time in the past 18 meetings dating back to the 2010-11 season. The Grizzlies have won nine in a row in the series at home.
-Dating back to the 2016-17 season, Montana has won 25 of its past 25 home games overall.
(on grinding out the win)
“You’ve got to find ways to win. We’re going to take everybody’s best punch every night, and we’re at that point right now where every game is a championship game for us. These guys find ways to stick together through adversity, and they made runs and runs and runs, and that’s what happens when you’re playing the most efficient team in the conference. For us to come out and get 23 assists in a game like this is a sign of a team that’s playing together.”
(on making a season-high 15 three-pointers)
“We knew those shots were going to come, and for us it was about getting our feet set and taking the right ones. Keep trying to attack the paint as much as possible, and it was the fact that we were attacking the paint that forced them to squeeze.”
(on his message as MSU cut the deficit to three points)
“Just keep playing, just keep grinding. We’ve got to find ways to get stops.”
(on Rorie’s performance, nearing a triple-double with 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds)
“He’s the iron man. He’s solid on both sides of the ball and he does what it takes to win ballgames.”
(on the energy from a sold-out crowd)
“Hopefully we can sustain this; we need this same energy and environment on Monday. It’s incredible. I enjoy it when we have it. I’m thankful for it. Go Griz!”
Montana has a quick turnaround, facing second-place Northern Colorado on Monday night. The Grizzlies own a two-game lead over the Bears in the Big Sky standings. A win on Monday would push the lead to three games with four to play.