Big Sky Conference Basketball Wrap, Saturday 2/22 - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Big Sky Conference Basketball Wrap, Saturday 2/22

Montana edges Idaho State 62-61

Mario Dunn Jr. did not miss a shot from the floor, scoring 15 points as Montana held on to defeat Idaho State 62-61 Saturday night.

Keron DeShields made a layup to give Montana a 61-53 lead. Idaho State answered with Tomas Sanchez hitting a trey and Chris Hansen scoring four points to pull Idaho State with 61-60 with 57 seconds to play. Montana's Kareem Jamar made one of two free throws to give the Grizzlies a two-point lead with 26 seconds left, but Jamar then fouled Andre Hatchett with a second to go. Hatchett missed his second free throw attempt, and Chris Kemp grabbed the rebound to seal it for the Grizzlies.

Dunn was 5 of 5 from the floor, including three 3-pointers. Jamar and Jordan Gregory added 12 points apiece for Montana (14-11, 9-7 Big Sky).

Sanchez had 17 points to lead Idaho State (10-15, 7-9).

 

Hot Shooting Leads Weber State Past Bobcats

Montana State center Paul Egwuonwu was addressing a 16-4 first half scoring run that gave Weber State control in its 86-68 win over the Bobcats Saturday, but he might as well have been commenting on the game as a whole.

"They were making shots," the Bobcat senior said, "and we weren't."

That theme pretty much carried a night on which visiting Weber State looked awfully comfortable in Worthington Arena. The Wildcats shot 58% from the floor, including 62% in the second half, and scorched the nets for 59% from beyond the arc.

MSU coach Brad Huse said the dichotomy of not getting enough stops and not answering Weber's run of points in the crucial first half told the game's tale. "We needed to get more stops and/or answer with more points," he said. "It's a combination."

With the Bobcats leading 10-7 after Egwuonwu's jumper at the 12:07 mark, Davion Berry hit a three-pointer 23 seconds later, then Richaud Gittens hit another to give Weber State a lead it would never relinquish. Gittens' layup pushed the lead to five, and capped the run with a layup at 8:22 to give Weber State a 23-14 lead.

Huse lauded Weber State's approach. "They're patient, but not one-headed," he said of the Wildcats' multiple offensive threats. "They do a good job sharing the ball. They played inside-out. We were committed to stopping that, but their guards answered by hitting shots."

Davion Berry paced the Wildcats, scoring a game-high 20 points and hitting all 10 of his free throws. Jordan Richardson's 19 points included three three-pointers. Gittens scored 14 points while Jeremy Senglin added 12.

After Kyle Tresnak opened the second half with a jumper the Bobcats scored five straight points on two free throws by Paul Egwuonwu and a conventional three-point play by Flavien Davis to bring the Cats within 43-35. That was as close as Montana State would be the rest of the game. Richaud's layup triggered a 14-5 run to give Weber State control for good.

The Wildcats also regained control of the Big Sky race with the win, raising their record in conference play to 12-4. Coupled with Northern Colorado's loss at Sacramento State, WSU now owns a two-game lead. MSU fell to 8-8 in the league, 13-14 overall. Flavien Davis led the Cats with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Paul Egwuonwu scored 14 and Terrell Brown added 12.

The Bobcats host Southern Utah on Thursday night for the team's final home game of 2013-14. MSU's four seniors – Egwuonwu, Davis, Antonio Biglow and Calen Coleman – will be honored.

 

Lady Griz bounce back with convincing win

Kellie Cole scored a career-high 27 points and Montana led from start to finish in a 76-67 victory over Idaho State Saturday afternoon at Pocatello, Idaho.

The win gave the Lady Griz a split of its two-game road trip and provided Montana the rebound it desperately needed after Thursday night's disappointing two-point loss at Weber State.

"This was just a great, great win for us," said UM coach Robin Selvig. "Especially after playing like we did at Weber and being unable to make the plays when we had a chance to win that game."

On Saturday Montana jumped out to a 12-0 lead, led 47-35 at the half and had to weather just one serious Idaho State comeback attempt that cut the lead to two, 65-63, with two and a half minutes to play.

With the game in the balance, Idaho State committed costly turnovers on consecutive possessions, and the Lady Griz went 9 for 10 from the line over the final two-plus minutes to keep themselves in the three-team conversation about hosting the Big Sky Conference postseason tournament.

"We came out and really shot it well to start with," Selvig said, "and that really helped us, because you start to feel like you can't score."

The Big Sky's three leaders -- North Dakota, Montana and Southern Utah -- all were victorious Saturday. UND won at home over Sacramento State, 87-57, and the Thunderbirds collected a big road win at Portland State, 86-79.

North Dakota, with a 13-4 record, holds a one-game advantage in the loss column over Montana and Southern Utah, which are both 11-5. UND is in control of its postseason fate, but North Dakota closes its season with three straight tough road games: at Portland State, Eastern Washington and Southern Utah.

Montana has upcoming road games at Southern Utah and Montana State before closing at home with Sacramento State and Northern Arizona. The Thunderbirds finish with four straight at home, including games with both North Dakota and Montana.

Cole, who was held scoreless Thursday at Weber State, helped keep Montana in a tie for second with a career afternoon Saturday. She hit 11 of her 17 shots and produced a balanced scoring game, with 13 points in the first half and 14 in the second.

Her pull-up jumper with four minutes left helped slow Idaho State's rally, and it was her two free throws with 2:18 remaining that gave Montana some breathing room after the Bengals had cut the lead to two.

"She's been our Miss Jekyll and Miss Hyde lately," Selvig said. "Thursday night she goes for zero and doesn't look very confident.

"Today was the Kellie I know and love. She looked like a player who was confident in her shooting. She had a heck of a game."

Cole got plenty of help from her backcourt running mate, Torry Hill. The point guard scored 19 points and dished out a game-high six assists with only one turnover while playing all 40 minutes.

And she was a big part of why the Lady Griz got off to the start they did.

She assisted on two of Montana's first three baskets in the opening two minutes, and her 3-pointer at the 16:51 mark made it 12-0. She had 10 points, four assists and four rebounds in the first half.

Montana built its second-half lead to 14 points, 53-39, on a Cole basket at the 13:39 mark and still led by 10, 63-53, with six minutes to play before Idaho State made its final push.

Rebecca Schrimpsher hit back-to-back threes, and Lindsey Reed, who followed up her 34-point game Thursday with 21 more on Saturday, hit a three of her own to cut the lead to 65-62.

After Kara Jenkins went 1 for 2 from the line to trim the lead to 65-63, Cole was perfect in her two attempts to make it 67-63, and back-to-back turnovers by Schrimpsher and solid work at the line by the Lady Griz allowed Montana to escape and improve to 28-6 all-time at Pocatello.

Montana committed just eight turnovers, 11 fewer than Thursday, and out-rebounded its fifth straight opponent. Seven different players grabbed at least three boards, led by Cole's eight, and the Lady Griz finished with a 46-33 advantage to match its best rebounding differential of the conference season.

Montana allowed Idaho State just six offensive rebounds, which resulted in only seven second-chance points for the undersized Bengals.

The Lady Griz will play a rare Wednesday game next week when Montana plays at Southern Utah, a game both teams will need if they want to remain in the hunt to host the postseason tournament.

Montana will play its final regular-season road game a week from Monday at Montana State.

In Saturday's other Big Sky games, Northern Arizona won 86-70 at Northern Colorado, and Montana State won 75-71 at Weber State.

 

Bobcat Women Post Road Win at Weber State

All season Montana State head coach Tricia Binford has raved about the play of her bench and on Saturday afternoon her reserves gave the Bobcats the lift they needed to post a 75-71 win over Weber State, to snap a two-game losing streak.

Bozeman High product Alexa Dawkins came off the pine in the final six minutes and posted four points, four rebounds and an assist. Dawkins, a 6-1 sophomore, hit the biggest shot of the contest with one-minute remaining to stave off a late Weber State (6-18, 2-14) rally, which saw WSU whittled down a nine-point Montana State (13-12, 8-8) lead with 3:44 left to just one point at the 2:29 mark.

The Bobcats converted four-of-four from the line in the final 42-seconds to secure the win.

"Our bench was huge for us," Binford said. "Alexa and Margreet (Barhoum) gave us some big minutes."

In a game that featured 18 lead changes and 11 ties, Weber State appeared to be pulling away at the 12:55 mark of the second stanza taking a five-point advantage following a Brianna Averette triple.

Barhoum quickly responded with five consecutive points on a layup and three-pointer to even the score at 49-all with 12:04 remaining.

"We challenged the kids to close out the game with the best effort possible," Binford said. "Alexa had some huge rebounds, Margreet hit big shots, Kalli Durham battled down low and had seven rebounds and Ashley (Brumwell), Ausha (Cole), and Jasmine (Hommes) were solid from start to finish. Weber State is playing very well right now, and we needed a complete team effort to get the win."

Brumwell paced MSU in the opening period scoring 13 of her game-high 20 points to give the Bobcats a 35-34 halftime advantage. Also finishing in double-digits was Hommes with 18 points.

The Bobcats also saw an eight game streak of being out-rebounded snapped as MSU held a 43-34 cushion under the glass. Dawkins finished with nine boards, while Brumwell posted eight rebounds and Durham and Hommes registered seven each.

Weber State had four players in double-figures led by Averette and Kalie Matthews with 13 points, apiece.

With the victory, the Bobcats, who entered the game in eighth place, moved into a tie for fifth place along with Idaho State and Sacramento State. MSU will play its final regular-season road game at Southern Utah on Saturday.

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