MISSOULA — You can see the joy creep onto Aanen Moody's face ever so subtly.
Over the last two games, each time the Montana guard makes a basket, the announcer says "Aaaaanen" followed by a response of "Mooooody" from the Dahlberg Arena crowd.
Even in tight games, a slight small cracks onto Moody's serious face each time it happens.
And since the tradition began, the crowd has been doing it a lot.
For the second straight game, Moody scored 26 points and UM needed every single one of them as the Grizzlies topped Northern Arizona 67-66 on Saturday evening in front of 4,527 fans in a game that served as UM's second of two N7 nights to celebrate Native American heritage.
"Levitating," Moody said afterwards about how it felt to hear his name called.
It was the men's turn to don the turquoise jerseys for the N7 game, and in them, Moody shot 9 for 15 from the floor and 7 for 9 from deep as he scored 18 first-half points to help the Grizzlies dig out of an early double-digit hole.
Dischon Thomas added 13 points, Josh Bannan put up 11 points and eight rebounds and Brandon Whitney added 10 points and six assists for the Grizzlies (12-12, 6-6 Big Sky Conference) who won their third straight game and earned their first Big Sky Conference sweep of the season. The Griz shot 46.6% from the floor and went 11 for 23 from 3-point range.
Carson Towt led NAU (6-18, 2-9) with 23 points and 12 rebounds. The Lumberjacks led 21-10 to start the game before UM chipped away to take a 35-33 advantage at half after a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Moody.
Towt made it 64-60 NAU with 2:58 to play, but a 3-pointer by Moody trimmed it to one point with under two minutes to go. With under a minute to play, it was Josh Vazquez who came up with a big play as he stripped Jalen Cone and scored on a layup to make it 65-64 Grizzlies with 47 seconds left.
After Xavier Fuller made it 66-65 NAU with a pair of free throws, Whitney scored on the next possession to give UM the lead for good. Whitney missed his first shot but followed up with the offensive board and put-back with 10 seconds to go.
NAU was unable to score on the final possession and UM escaped with the win in a season that has been defined by close games and losses, but the Grizzlies made it back-to-back home wins in one-possession games as they turn their season around.
The Grizzlies are on the road this coming week at Idaho State on Thursday and at Weber State on Saturday.