Big Sky Basketball Scores & Highlights, Thursday 2/5 - News, Sports and Weather

Big Sky Basketball Scores & Highlights, Thursday 2/5

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Brandon Leads Eagles to 75-69 Road Victory over the Grizzlies

Guard Drew Brandon scored 27 points to lead the visiting Eastern Washington Eagles to a hard-fought 75-69 win over the University of Montana Grizzlies Thursday evening in a Big Sky Conference contest in UM's Dahlberg Arena.

EWU improves to 8-1 in league and is 17-5 overall and remains in second place in the conference trailing league-leading Sacramento State (9-1) by just a half of a game.

The Grizzlies, who had a six-game winning streak snapped, go to 7-3 in the Big Sky and 11-10 overall, and lead Northern Arizona (6-3) by a half-a-game for third place.

It was an uphill battle for Montana most of the way. The Griz took their first lead of the game at 24-22 on a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Mario Dunn with 4:20 to go until halftime.

The Griz maintained that slim 2-point advantage briefly, and took their biggest lead of four points (29-25) on a trey by senior forward Mike Weisner with 3:19 left until intermission. The Eagles responded with eight unanswered points after that though, and took a 33-29 lead on a 3-pointer by Drew with 1:12 left until the break, and that is how the first half ended.

EWU never trailed in the second half, but the game was tied twice in the last 20 minutes of action. The second deadlock was at 52-52 on a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Brandon Gfeller with 11:45 remaining. The Eagles regained the lead at 55-52 on a trey by Brandon with 10:57 left to play, and they never relinquished their lead after that.

The Grizzlies could never get closer than four points the rest of the way. UM trimmed EWU's lead to 73-69 with 14 seconds left, but Eagle junior forward Venky Jois iced the game with a pair of free throws with eight ticks to go, to give EWU its ninth win in its last 10 games.

Dunn led the Griz and tied his career-high with 17 points, and was 5-of-6 from 3-point range. Gfeller added 14 points, followed by Weisner with 12

UM junior forward Martin Breunig added 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for his third double-double of the season, but was an uncharacteristic 4-of-11 from the floor. He had entered the game shooting 59.3% from the field, which ranked him 12th in the nation.

“They just fronted him as everyone else has done, we just weren't patient and weren't willing to move the ball from side to side to get it in there or to get a good shot for most of the game until we got in a hole and started executing in the second half,” said Griz head coach Travis DeCuire about Breunig. “We got what we wanted for the most part, but unfortunately we dug ourselves a hole in the first half.”

Griz senior guard Jordan Gregory could not find his shooting touch, and made 2-of-13 shots and finished with 7 points, although he did tie his career-high with 6 assists.

Brandon, a 6-4 senior, was 10-of-20 from the floor, made 3-of-7 treys and was 4-of-6 from the line. Also in double figures for EWU were sophomore forward Felix Van Hofe and Jois with 12 points each. Jois also had 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks.

“We just fell asleep, we didn't leave them wide open,” DeCuire said. “We didn't know where they were and we made the mistake of turning our back to the guy. We're supposed to creep in there to help, but we're supposed to know where our guy is so that we can close out. We just didn't know where he was and it ended up being an uncontested shot.

“We gave them the game,” an obviously disappointed DeCuire said. “We gave it to them. We gave it to them and then when we fought to get it back, we got cheated. We made it hard for him (Brandon) to get the ball where he wanted and do his job, but we could've been more patient and done some more things.

We just didn't guard him.”

Van Hofe started in place of junior guard Tyler Harvey, who did not make the trip due to an injury. Harvey is the NCAA scoring leader, averaging 23.4 points a game.

Both teams shot the ball well. The Griz were 22-of-48 (45.8%) from the floor, 13-of-24 (54.2%) from behind the arc, and 12-of-13 (92.3% ) from the line. The Eagles made 25-of-49 shots (51.0%), 11-of-14 treys (45.8% – which is a season-high by a UM opponent), and 14-of-20 (70.0%) charity shots. The Griz had a 28-25 edge on the boards.

The Griz host Idaho this Saturday, Feb. 7, in Dahlberg Arena, with tip-off at 7:05 p.m. The Vandals won 80-71at Montana State Thursday night. EWU plays the Cats in Bozeman this Saturday, in a 2:35 p.m. contest.

Eagles hold on, snap Lady Griz' winning streak

Eastern Washington built a 10-point second-half lead and held on for a 65-64 victory over Montana Thursday night at Reese Court at Cheney, Wash., to snap the Lady Griz' seven-game winning streak.

The Eagles ended a four-game losing streak and beat Montana on Reese Court for the third straight year.

The Lady Griz (15-6, 8-2 BSC), who lost for the first time since Jan. 3, led 41-39, but a 10-0 run by the Eagles (12-8, 5-4 BSC) gave them a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Trailing 62-52 with one minute remaining, Montana got three-pointers from Maggie Rickman and Hannah Doran to keep the pressure on Eastern Washington, and the Eagles nearly gave the game away.

Two Kayleigh Valley free throws with 14 seconds left made it 65-60. Off the inbound pass, Lexie Nelson tried to dribble through backcourt pressure, and she was stripped by Valley. Kellie Rubel turned it into a layup to make it 65-62 with six seconds left.

On Eastern Washington's next possession, Hayley Hodgins tried to advance the ball upcourt with a pass, and Rickman came up with a steal near midcourt. She fed Rubel near the top of the key with two seconds remaining, and the fifth-year senior made an uncharacteristic mistake given the time and score.

An open look at a three-pointer was available had she stopped and popped. Instead she dribbled to the basket for a harmless lay-in at the buzzer that did nothing but cut the final margin to a single point.

Montana scored a dozen points the final 55 seconds, but the hole was a little too deep, and the Eagles were able to do just enough to beat the Lady Griz for the fourth time in the teams' last six meetings.

“We dug a hole the second half, and it didn't look like we were going to have a chance to come back, but the ladies did a heck of a job the last minute,” said UM coach Robin Selvig. “We actually could have had a shot that could have sent it to overtime.”

After finding an offensive rhythm at home last weekend, with hot hands from the three-point line and balanced scoring from starters to reserves, it was only three players who led the offensive charge Thursday, and three-point shots did not fall when they could have helped the most.

Rickman, who went 9 for 13, finished with a game-high 20 points. Rubel added 14 and Valley 12. Nobody else, including Big Sky Conference Player of the Week McCalle Feller, scored more than five, and the bench only added eight points.

“The game is so much easier when you're making threes, and we didn't shoot threes great tonight,” said Selvig, whose team went 7 for 24 (.292) from the arc.

“We had looks, and when you're making those, the game gets a little easier. We didn't, but we still gave ourselves a chance by playing some defense and hanging in there.”

Montana came out strong in the opening minutes and went up 6-0, but that would be its largest lead of the game.

Eastern Washington came back and took a 9-8 lead on a Jade Redmon jumper, and a tight first half ended up deadlocked 28-28 at the break.

The second half was back-and-forth as well, until Eastern's 10-0 run, which came on seven straight points from Delaney Hodgins and a three-pointer from Lexie Nelson.

Montana pulled within three, 55-52, on a Rickman jumper with 4:56 remaining. Montana's next points would not come until Rickman's three-pointer with 55 seconds left started a comeback that came up a point short.

The Lady Griz missed six straight shots between Rickman's makes to fall behind 62-52.

“We went cold and dug ourselves a hole,” said Selvig. “We had some go down and out, and we didn't shoot the three very well when we had good looks.

“They had some second-chance baskets in the second half, and they hurt us putting it down and going to the hole a couple of times.”

Montana has been getting offensive sparks from Feller, a starter, and Shanae Gilham off the bench, but neither was able to ignite anything Thursday. Feller went 2 for 9 and at five points had her lowest scoring game since early December. Gilham missed all three of her shots off the bench.

Carly Selvig had a stuffed stat line, with five points, nine rebounds, a career-high seven assists and four blocks, and Alycia Sims added five points and six rebounds off the bench.

Hayley Hodgins led Eastern's balanced offensive attack with 14 points. Redmon added 13, Delaney Hodgins 10. Nelson and Melissa Williams both finished with nine points.

The Eagles turned the ball over just seven times, a season low.

Montana, which held a two-game lead in the loss column when the week began, still sits atop the Big Sky Conference, but the loss brought the Lady Griz within a game's reach of the chase pack.

Montana has a one-game lead on Sacramento State (9-12, 7-3 BSC), which was off Thursday, and North Dakota (15-7, 7-3 BSC). UND won for the fifth time in six games Thursday with a 67-52 home-court victory over Southern Utah.

In other Big Sky games Thursday, Northern Arizona won 51-49 at Northern Colorado, and Montana State won 76-65 at Idaho, the Bobcats' third straight win.

Montana plays at Idaho (9-11, 3-6 BSC) Saturday afternoon.

Idaho holds on to beat Montana State 80-71

Mike Scott and Jordan Scott each scored 13 points as Idaho came back and held on to beat Montana State 80-71 on Thursday night.Mike Scott shot just 2 of 10 from the floor but was a perfect 8 of 8 at the line, while Jordan Scott was a perfect 6 of 6 from the floor.

Jordan Scott made the final basket of the opening half and the Vandals (9-11, 4-5 Big Sky) trailed 39-38. Idaho opened the second half with seven missed shots, falling behind by 11 until Jordan Scott made a layup, sparking a 16-1 run that put the Vandals in front with 10:44 left to play.

The Bobcats (4-18, 1-9) pulled within three, 68-65, with 2:44 remaining, but back-to-back baskets from Jordan Scott, and Idaho's 8-of-10 shooting at the line in the final minute ended the contest.

Danny Robison led Montana State with 18 points.

Montana State Women Loot Vandals

Freshman Hannah Caudill came off the bench to post a team-high 18 points and junior standout Jasmine Hommes notched a strong second-half to finish with 17 as Montana State handed Idaho a 76-65 setback, Thursday night in Cowan Spectrum.

Montana State (10-11, 4-6) closed out the first half on a 9-5 run to take a 28-21 advantage into intermission. Idaho (9-11, 3-6) opened the second stanza with a 9-3 stretch to close to within 31-30 at the 17:53 mark, but the Bobcats were able to fend off the Vandals with 12 unanswered points and never looked back.

“We got a timeout when Idaho closed to within one-point,” MSU Head Coach Tricia Binford said. “We said, ‘Here's their punch, how are we going to respond?' I couldn't be happier with how well we kept our composure. It was a great team effort.”

Caudill, a Spokane product, came off the bench to record a Big Sky Conference high 18 points, including connecting on a season-best eight-of-eight from the line. Hommes, who was saddled with foul trouble in the first half, responded with 15 second-half points.

“We've been getting great production from our bench in the last few games,” Binford said. “They've been electric. Jasmine had a great second half and Jackie (Elliott) was phenomenal on the glass.”

Despite getting out-rebounded 52-45, Elliott finished with a team-high 12 rebounds to go along with nine points. The Bobcats also connected on a season-high 28-of-38 free throws to secure the win down the stretch.

For the game, MSU shot 36 percent from the field, while holding UI to 27 percent. In addition, the Bobcats committed just ten turnovers.

The Vandals were paced in the loss by Stacey Barr with 26 points and 15 rebounds.

“The kids are shooting with a lot of confidence,” Binford said. “Everyone played their role. Peyton (Ferris) gave us a lift in the first half when Jasmine got into foul trouble; Delany (Junkermier) gave us a scoring punch and Alexa Dawkins played a ton of minutes with a battered body. Now, it's on to Eastern Washington.”

The win was MSU's third straight and vaults the Bobcats back into the hunt for a Big Sky Conference postseason tournament berth.

Montana State will play at EWU in Cheney, Saturday, Feb. 7 at 3 p.m. (MST).

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