SPOKANE, Wash. — The Montana men's basketball team closed out its nonconference schedule Tuesday by playing the No. 11-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs for the the first time since 2015 and looking to pull an upset as a 24-point underdog.
After both teams came out exchanging buckets it was all Griz for a lengthy stretch as they roared out to 20-10 lead in the first ten minutes thanks to great 3-point shooting.
The Griz were firing on all cylinders and fired up while the Zags were starting to sweat as the first half progressed and they couldn’t find any kind of rhythm.
The Griz held onto their lead until seven minutes remained in the first half, but the Zags finally found the rhythm they were looking for and took their first lead since the opening possessions to go up 23-22 and outscored the Griz 13-2 during a four minute stretch.
From there they didn’t look back the rest of the half as All-American Drew Timme was unstoppable. scoring 18 to give the Zags a 36-28 lead going into halftime.
The Zags extended that lead as the second half progressed and were up by as much as 14 with 12 minutes to go leading Montana 60-46.
From there the Griz went blow for blow with the Zags and started slowly chipping away at the lead and caught fire in the final minutes of the game.
With 1:57 it was a five-point game as the Zags led 74-69 and momentum was all on Montana's side.
However, Gonzaga was able to collect themselves offensively and force the Griz to start fouling and closed out the game with an 85-75 win.
Gonzaga's Timme finished his monstrous night with 32 points while Montana's Josh Bannan led the Griz with 19.
The game had five total lead changes with both teams holding double-digit leads at one point, and each shot at least 50% from the field, but it was the 26-for-34 shooting from the line from the Zags compared to 11 for 16 for the Griz that was the deciding factor that separated the two teams at the end of the night.
The win from Gonzaga improved their record to 10-3 and knocked the Griz to 6-6.
The Zags won their 72nd consecutive home game, the most consecutive home wins by an Division I school since 1985.
The Griz will have a brief break for the holiday season then begin Big Sky Conference play on Dec. 29 when they host Eastern Washington.