(Editor’s note: University of Montana media release)
MISSOULA – There was no way Michael Oguine was going to lose his final game inside Dahlberg Arena.
It didn’t come easy, but despite trailing for more than 27 minutes on Monday, the senior willed Montana to a 66-64 victory over Northern Arizona.
For much of his career, Oguine has taken a backseat, allowing other players be the center of attention with high-scoring games or highlight-reel dunks. Don’t be mistaken, the senior will still finish his career ranked in the top eight in school history for career points scored, as well as the top three for steals.
But when his team needed him most, Oguine put them on his back, scoring a game-high 22 points, in addition to 11 points, four assists, two blocked shots and a steal.
Montana trailed for much of the night, including by as many as nine points. The Grizzlies fought back to get within one, 50-49, on a one-handed Oguine dunk through the lane, but NAU responded with the game’s next six points to push the deficit back to seven with under 7 minutes to play.
That’s when Oguine led the charge once again, as Montana used a 14-2 run to not only mount the comeback, but take a five-point lead. During the run, Oguine had a dunk to tie the game at 58-58, in addition to a highlight-reel slam to cap the run and force a Lumberjack timeout. He also had a steal, block, offensive rebound and two assists during the spurt.
Still, the game came down to the wire. A Luke Avdalovic three-pointer cut the score to 65-64 with 66 seconds remaining. Montana missed a shot on the other end, as well as the front end of a one-and-one free throw. But again, Oguine was there, collecting an offensive board and getting fouled, making one free throw. Northern Arizona’s three-point attempt at the buzzer was short, sending Montana home with a victory.
- The win was Travis DeCuire’s 105th as head coach of the Griz, the most wins ever by a UM coach through his first five seasons.
- Montana has won 27 of its past 29 home games dating back to February 2017. The Grizzlies are one of 20 teams nationally to lose two or fewer home games over the past two seasons.
- Over the past two games, Montana has held its opponents to an average of 59.0 points per game.
- Montana trailed for 27:27 of the contest before leading for the final 3:26. The Grizzlies trailed for 23 consecutive minutes until Bobby Moorehead connected on a clutch three-pointer to put the Griz up for good.
- Montana out-rebounded NAU, 37-28, including 11-7 on the offensive glass (six came from Oguine). Montana had 13 second-chance points, compared to zero for NAU.
- In addition to his big three-pointer, Moorehead hit two additional treys, including the first UM basket of the game.
- Montana recorded five blocked shots, including three from Sayeed Pridgett. Pridgett also added 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting, in addition to seven boards.
- Sophomore Timmy Falls scored eight points, and over the past two games has totaled 15; he scored 15 points in his previous five games combined.
- Montana turned the ball over 13 times, but just twice over the final 15 minutes.
- Montana scored its fewest points in a win since Dec. 17 vs. North Dakota State (60).
- Twenty-four of the game’s first 30 points were from beyond the arc. Both teams started the game shooting 4-of-8 from deep, before the Grizzlies closed the half by missing their next seven long-range attempts.
- Montana led 21-20 with 6:24 to play in the first half, but NAU closed the half on a 15-6 run, forcing five Griz turnovers.
- Montana trailed 35-27 at the half, its largest since trailing by nine at Creighton (Nov. 28). Montana is now 5-6 when trailing at the half this season, but Monday was its largest deficit overcome.
- Oguine scored Montana’s final nine points of the first half. No other Grizzly scored for a span of 11:03.
- Montana opened the second half on a 5-0 run, holding NAU without a point for the first 3 minutes, with the Lumberjacks using the full shot clock on each of their first three possessions.
- Oguine lost a contact at the 14:04 mark of the second half, with the Grizzlies trailing 41-34. He scored the next basket, though, igniting a 7-2 run, and getting Montana to within two points.
- Trailing by seven, 56-49, Montana used a 7-0 run to tie the game at 56-56, in a span of just 68 seconds. Pridgett had back-to-back buckets, before a Kendal Manuel three.
- DeCuire improved to 8-0 all-time vs. Northern Arizona.
(on getting Northern Arizona’s best shot)
“You’re going to get everybody’s ‘A’ game every night and we knew they were going to be up for us. It’s hard to sustain that for 29 games. The great teams do that every night, and the good teams respond to sluggish starts. We did that tonight.”
(on the sluggish first start)
“We took too many threes and we gave up too many threes. The biggest key was playing harder than them. You can’t let someone come into your gym and play harder than you, and they did that in the first half.”
(on Oguine’s big night)
“He’s had a hard time getting shots. Our balance is our strength, and sometimes he’s been caught up in the shuffle. Those six offensive rebounds were huge, and that last one sealed the deal for us. The thing about Mike is his points don’t affect his commitment to winning, playing hard and his coachability, and that’s what makes him special.”
(on the spot his team is in)
“You go down the stretch without Jamar, Mike missed a start, we’ve had guys in and out. You’re in first place going into the last week, and I’ll take that with all that we’ve been though. We just have to find a way to keep grinding. Adversity toughens you up; we’ll see how tough we are down the stretch.”
Montana will close the regular season on the road, traveling to Portland State (Thursday) and Sacramento State (Saturday). The Grizzlies are fighting for a second consecutive Big Sky title and own a one-game advantage over second-place Northern Colorado. The Bears close the season at Southern Utah (Thursday) and at home vs. Northern Arizona (Saturday).