CollegeMontana Grizzlies


Montana Grizzlies honor Anthony Johnson, storm past South Dakota

Griz honor Anthony Johnson
Posted at 9:55 PM, Jan 06, 2024

MISSOULA — On a night the University of Montana honored the late Anthony Johnson and presented his family with a framed No. 23 jersey, the Grizzlies' men's basketball team gave his family plenty to cheer about.

After Johnson's wife, Shaunte, broke a team huddle at mid-court, the Griz stormed past South Dakota for an 82-63 win in the Big Sky Conference-Summit League Challenge Saturday at Dahlberg Arena.

Four Grizzlies finished in double figures, with Dischon Thomas scoring a game-high 19 points. Giordan Williams and Josh Vazquez each added 17 points for the Griz, who shot 52.5% from the floor for the game. They made 13 of 30 3-point attempts, with Vazquez burying five triples and Williams and Thomas each making three.

Williams was especially lethal in the first half, scoring 12 points in the first 20 minutes to help Montana to a 36-24 lead at the break.

The second half belonged to Thomas and Brandon Whitney. Thomas had 12 points after the break, and Whitney 14. Whitney finished with a well-rounded stat line of 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds, while Thomas added 11 rebounds to finish with a double-double.

South Dakota started the game shooting the ball well and trading buckets with the Griz, but Montana's defense clamped down midway through the first half to turn a one-point lead into a 12-point advantage at halftime. The Griz led by as many as 23 in the second half.

The Coyotes shot just 37.5% for the game. Lahat Thioune had 12 points and 11 rebounds to lead South Dakota.

With the win — its second in the Big Sky Conference-Summit League Challenge — Montana improved to 10-5 overall on the season. The Griz, who split their first two Big Sky games to close out 2023, return to conference play next week for home games against Northern Colorado on Jan. 11 and Northern Arizona on Jan. 13.