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Montana Grizzlies hold off pesky Sacramento State for second straight win

Posted at 9:31 PM, Feb 22, 2024

MISSOULA — The Montana men's basketball team started slow against Sacramento State Thursday at Dahlberg Arena, but the Grizzlies rallied to avoid a letdown loss and ultimately grabbed a 68-61 Big Sky Conference win.

The Hornets, who are last in the league standings, jumped out to an early 11-2 lead before Montana settled in and clawed back into the game. Brandon Whitney scored on back-to-back drives to tie the game at 15-15 midway through the first half. From there, the teams traded buckets until the Griz took control in the second half.

Montana led 32-29 at the break, and Whitney pushed the lead to 43-33 less than six minutes into the second half. The pesky Hornets rallied to get back within 53-50, but Whitney, Josh Vazquez and Laolu Oke helped Montana put the win away.

Oke had another massive double-double, grabbing 15 rebounds to go along with his 10 points. Whitney and Vazquez each scored 12 points, and Aanen Moody added 10. Te'Jon Sawyer led the Griz with 14 points off the bench.

Sac State was led by Austin Patterson and Akol Mawein, who each scored 13 points in the loss.

The Hornets shot just 36% for the game, compared to 57% for Montana, but the Griz turned the ball over 12 times, leading to 14 Sac State points.

Montana, which has now won consecutive games after alternating wins and losses throughout February, improved to 18-9 overall and 9-5 in the Big Sky. The Griz host Portland State at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Sac State fell to 6-22 overall and 2-13 in league play.