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Montana upsets Weber State, advances to Big Sky Conference tournament semifinals

Mack Anderson finishes at rim.jpeg
Posted at 11:03 PM, Mar 11, 2021

Mack Anderson was the lone Montana Grizzly with Big Sky Conference tournament experience coming into this week, and on Thursday evening, the Bozeman native had his best game in a UM jersey.

The junior scored a career-high 16 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had three blocks including the potential game-saving one as No. 6 Montana upset No. 3 Weber State 80-75 at Idaho Central Arena in Boise, Idaho.

Montana freshman Robby Beasley poured in 23 points to lead the game in scoring while Josh Bannan and Cameron Parker each scored 10 points for the Grizzlies (15-12). Bannan added seven rebounds while Parker led the Grizzlies with five assists. Montana shot the ball at a 61.5% rate from the floor and was 6 for 14 from 3-point range. The Grizzlies also overcame 19 turnovers which Weber State turned into 20 points.

Anderson came out firing for the Grizzlies, scoring his first points on a one-handed put-back dunk. He went on to score 14 points in the first half as the Grizzlies and Wildcats went into the break tied 34-34.

Leading 40-38, the Griz began to find separation as Parker found Bannan for an open 3-pointer, and then Kyle Owens for a layup and the foul. After his free throw, Montana led 46-38 with 14:49 to go.

Montana's offense continued to stay hot, and Anderson scored his lone second-half basket to give UM a 58-47 lead at the 8:38 mark.

UM led 69-54 with 3:42 to play, but as they've done all season, the Grizzlies didn't make finishing the game easy on themselves as Weber State raced back and got within one point at 76-75 with 17 seconds left to play before UM iced the game with free throws. After Parker put Montana up 78-75, Anderson blocked Seikou Sisoho Jawara's 3-point attempt that was tipped out of bounds by Weber State, giving the ball to Montana with eight seconds remaining.

Josh Vazquez, who was Wednesday's hero, added two more free throws to seal the game for the Grizzlies who won their eighth straight Big Sky tournament game and advanced to the semifinal round for the third straight possible year.

Sisoho Jawara and Cody Carlson led Weber State with 18 points each. The Wildcats finished shooting at a 43.1% rate from the floor and went 7 for 23 from beyond the arc. Weber State finishes the season 17-6.

The win makes Montana just the fifth men's team in Big Sky history to win two games and advance to the semifinal round since the conference moved to a four-round format in 2016. Griz head coach Travis DeCuire also moved into sole possession of fourth place in wins as a head coach at Montana with 142. He passed his former coach Blaine Taylor.

Montana's task doesn't get any easier as they'll match up with No. 2 Eastern Washington (14-7) in the semifinals. The Eagles beat the Grizzlies twice in the regular season, winning both matches 90-76. EWU beat No. 10 Northern Arizona 66-60 on Thursday.