No. 2 Eastern Washington wasted no time in dispatching the No. 6 Montana Grizzlies, as the Eagles topped the Grizzlies 78-50 on Friday evening in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball semifinal game at Idaho Central Arena in Boise, Idaho.
The win halts an all-Montana championship game as the Eagles will take on No. 5 Montana State for the tournament title on Saturday evening after the Bobcats upset top-seeded Southern Utah earlier in the night.
EWU brothers Jacob and Tanner Groves combined for 39 points to spearhead the Eagles' offensive attack, as Eastern Washington started the game on a 13-3 run in the first 7:52 and went on to dominate from there. The Eagles led 44-15 at the halftime break as Montana went completely cold from the field in the first half, shooting just 21.4% from the field compared to EWU's 62.1% mark from the field.
The 28-point loss is Montana's largest in the Big Sky tournament, the previous being a 27-point loss to Weber State in 1979, per stats provided by Montana. The loss is also the largest to a conference foe under UM head coach Travis DeCuire, with the previous mark being the two 14-point losses UM was handed by EWU earlier this season.
Cameron Parker led Montana (15-13) with 15 points and three assists while Mack Anderson added nine points. Josh Bannan led UM with 10 rebounds. The Grizzlies finished shooting at a 34.5% clip from the field while finishing 5 for 23 from deep with Friday's game being their third in three days. Eastern Washington (15-7) shot a scorching 56.4% from the field and went 7 for 16 from 3-point range. The Eagles also out-rebounded Montana 40-25.
The loss snaps an eight-game winning streak for the Grizzlies in the conference tournament, a Big Sky record.
The Eagles will take on the Bobcats on Saturday at 6 p.m. for the conference championship.