(University of Montana Media Release)
MISSOULA -- Coppin State made a late surge to make things interesting Friday night, but Montana was in control from start to finish in a 69-62 victory over the visiting Eagles.
The Grizzlies' offense continued to show signs of finding its form, connecting on 54.5 percent of their shot attempts in the first half and jumping out to a 42-29 halftime advantage.
Montana built a 19-point lead twice in the second half, but both times Coppin State went on a run to stay in the game. The first, a 9-0 Eagles spurt, cut the score to 50-40 with 11:59 to play. Shortly after, the Grizzlies had a 9-0 run of their own to build their lead back up to 19, 63-44, with 7:41 on the clock.
Coppin State had one more push in it, scoring the game's next 13 points to cut its deficit to single digits, but never got closer than six points.
- Once again, Sayeed Pridgett paced the Grizzlies, scoring a game-high 19 points, including seven consecutive during a stretch in the second half. Pridgett recorded his second double-double of the season with 12 rebounds, plus three steals.
While Griz fans have grown accustomed to Pridgett's impressive play, they're quickly learning that Pridgett has a strong supporting cast. On Friday, one of the sidekicks was freshman Derrick Carter-Hollinger, who had a double-double of his own with 10 points and 10 boards. Four of the boards came on the offensive glass, with two turning directly into second-chance points. Perhaps none was bigger than a put-back basket with 1:07 remaining. Instead of Coppin State ball with the chance to cut the score to a single possession, Carter-Hollinger padded Montana's lead to eight.
Kendal Manuel was also in double figures (11 points), connecting on three of Montana's eight made three-points on the night. Timmy Falls had two triples and had the best all-around performance of his junior season, scoring 14 points.
More than just the scoring was the timing of Falls' contributions. The flashy guard scored seven straight Griz points early on to help Montana jump out to a 14-9 lead. Just 10 minutes into the contest, Falls was already into double figures for scoring, in addition to a no-look assist and a steal that led to a basket in transition.
On the night, Falls also added three assists and two blocked shots.
Montana's only deficit came on the opening points. Leading 14-12, the Grizzlies then used a 12-2 run to open the game up. At that point, Montana was shooting 55 percent, compared to just 28 percent for the Eagles. Over the final 28:25, Montana led by double digits for all but 4:44.
(on the team's improvement over the past week)
"We're excited about the direction we're headed. There's no question we've improved in quite a few areas, most of them mental. With youth and guys in new roles, it's still going to be a process for us, but at least we're showing some signs of potentially being a good basketball team."
(on his team's defense)
"I thought we did a phenomenal job (defending Coppin State's leading scorer Dejuan Clayton). Josh (Vazquez) and Timmy (Falls) did a nice job ambushing him for the bulk of the minutes. Our guys have spent a lot of time studying the scout, and I think our attention to detail has been really good on the defensive end."
(on Carter-Hollinger's rebounding)
"He just goes up and gets the ball. He's high energy, he brings the effort and he's won our hustle chart the last two games."
(on Falls' big game)
"He's been dialed in lately. The ball is starting to get a little more arc on his shot. The ball was moving so well that the lane opened up for him and he made some good decisions."
- Montana has now won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
- For the second game in a row, the Grizzlies had at least four players in double figures for scoring. Sayeed Pridgett once again led the Grizzlies for a variety of statistical categories: scoring (19), rebounding (12) and assists (3).
- Freshman Derrick-Carter Hollinger recorded his first career double-double, with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Four of his rebounds came on the offensive glass. Carter-Hollinger, who earned his third consecutive start, shot 5-of-7 from the floor.
- Senior Kendal Manuel had a team-high three three-pointers and totaled 11 points on the night. Both of his triples in the second half pushed Montana's lead to a game-high 19 points.
- Junior Timmy Falls had his best all-around game of the season, totaling 14 points, three assists and two blocked shots. During the first half, he scored seven consecutive Griz points to help Montana build an early lead. He then scored back-to-back baskets a few minutes later during a 12-2 run. Through 10 minutes, the junior already had 11 points, one steal and one assist.
- Montana's only deficit came at 2-0 and lasted just 12 seconds.
- The Grizzlies led by double digits for all but 4:44 over the final 28-plus minutes.
- Montana had 18 assists compared to just 13 turnovers (season low against a Division-I opponent), including six assists and one turnover for Manuel.
- Montana scored 42 points in the first half, a season high. It was also Montana's largest halftime lead of the season.
- The Grizzlies shot 54.5 percent from the floor in the first half, knocking down 18 of 33 shot attempts, including 5 of 13 (38.5) from deep.
- Coppin State entered the contest ranked fifth nationally for three-point attempts. The Eagles took 30 three-point attempts, but made just seven of them (23.3 percent).
- The game was the final one of the Collegiate Hoops Roadshow, presented by AtmosAir – which featured games against Arkansas, Montana Tech, Texas Southern and Coppin State. Afterward, Pridgett and Falls were named to the all-tournament team.
Montana will play its third game of the week, traveling to New Mexico to take on the Lobos of the Mountain West. New Mexico is 6-2 on the season, most-recently beating Wisconsin in the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y.