Big Sky Basketball Scores, Thursday 2/12 - News, Sports and Weather

Big Sky Basketball Scores, Thursday 2/12

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MISSOULA, MONTANA – Guard Jordan Gregory and forward Martin Breunig combined for 33 points and 14 rebounds to lead the visiting University of Montana Grizzlies to a 65-61 Big Sky Conference victory over the University of North Dakota Thursday evening.

The win boosts the Grizzlies' league record to 9-3 and they remain in third place in the Big Sky, and they are 13-10 overall. Montana has now won two games in a row and eight of its last 10. UND has lost two straight and four of its last five, and goes to 4-8 and 8-15.

Montana had a slim, one-point (33-32) halftime lead, and they led the game most of the rest of the way, but UND battled back in the second half.

The Grizzlies took their largest lead of the game at nine points at 46-37 with 16:11 left to play on a pair of free throws by Breunig. But, UND tied the game up at 50-50 on a dunk by senior forward Jaron Nash with 9:50 left to play. The Griz regained the lead at 52-50 on their next possession on a pair of free throws by sophomore guard Brandon Gfeller, and led the rest of the way.

UND stayed within striking distance, cutting UM's lead to 63-61 with 1:18 remaining on a 3-pointer by junior guard Estan Tyler. The Griz turned the ball over on their next two possessions, but on UND's next pair of possession they missed shot and then committed a turnover on a steal by Griz freshman forward Fabijan Krslovic.

After the timely steal by Krslovic he immediately passed the ball to Gregory, who was then quickly fouled. Gregory then nailed two free throws with 5.9 seconds left to ice the game for Montana.

“That's how you get road wins sometimes,” said UM head coach Travis DeCuire on his postgame radio show on KGVO Radio. “They're going to be ugly. You have to fight and claw your way out of a hole. I thought our defense had some slippage in the first half and we come out and hold them to 37 percent (UND was 10-of-27 from the floor in the second stanza) in the second half to give ourselves a chance to win.

“The guys showed mental toughness tonight,” DeCuire said. “We played through some adversity. We turned the ball over, we turned the ball over; we could've tucked it in and gone home and we didn't do that. I think this team would have lost this game two months ago. Tonight we showed another sign … of just fighting and doing whatever it takes to get the win.

“We couldn't get a rebound and we weren't getting stops and it was one of those that if they foul out, they foul out, but they needed to be in for us to get stops,” said DeCuire about the play of Breunig and Krslovic who he inserted in the game with 7:29 left even though they both had four fouls. “It helped us. Those guys played smart down the stretch.

“The guys were hard on themselves at halftime,” DeCuire said. “I overheard them saying a lot of things that I would have said to them. We were positive at the half and came out and played a little better. Now we're on the road, it's late, it's playoffs. I told the guys that right now it's not single elimination, it's almost like double or triple elimination. We're playing for spots in the standings and for match-ups in the tournament. Some of these other teams are playing for their lives and we have to respond to that. I thought we did.”

Gregory scored a team-high 18 points, and made 5-of-10 shots from the floor and 5-of-5 free throws. Breunig added 15 points and a team-best 8 rebounds, and was 6-of-12 from the field and 3-of-3 from the line.

Krslovic added 9 points and 7 rebounds, while sophomore point guard Mario had 8 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Gfeller chipped in 7 points.

Gregory now has 1,053 career points, which moves him up to 21st on UM's all-time scoring list. He passed Jeremy Lake (1,036 points, 1992-95), Brian Qvale (1,046, 2008-11) and Mike Warhank (1,046, 1997-2000), and Roger Fasting (1,047, 1988-92).

Nash led UND with game-highs of 19 points and 9 rebounds, while Tyler scored 13 points.

Montana, which out-scored UND 25 to 4 on points off turnovers, had a 32-29 edge on the boards.

The Grizzlies play at Northern Colorado on Saturday, Feb. 14, with tip-off at 7:05 p.m. (Mountain Time). The Bears (7-5/12-11) were upset and lost their first home Big Sky game, 90-87, to Montana State (2-10/5-19) Thursday. UND hosts MSU on Saturday in a 2:05 p.m. (Central Time) contest.

Montana State's game at Northern Colorado Thursday night looked a lot like a lot of other Bobcat games this year.

And then, all of a sudden, it didn't.

MSU jumped to a 19-point first-half lead, but Northern Colorado – like so many other Bobcat opponents this year – began chipping away. A Tevin Svihovec jumper with just under 12 minutes to play tied the score for the only time. Terrell Brown, playing in his home state, hit a jumper to stem the tide for MSU, then Michael Dison nailed a pair of free throws and a jumper, and Montana State led the rest of the night.

“These guys deserve it,” Bobcat coach Brian Fish said of his team's first road win of the season. “I've never been around a group that fights harder. I've been in this rebuilding process four times and the difference with this group is how hard they fight. They showed toughness tonight. I'm proud of them.”

Dison – “He's 155 pounds all wet, but he keeps swinging,” Fish said – led the way. He scored a team-high 23 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out three assists. He did it without a three-pointer, but made shots when his team needed him the most. Seventeen of Dison's points came in the second half, including three in the last 30 seconds. “I knew he'd keep fighting,” Fish said.

Statistically, the Bobcats kept themselves in the game at the free throw line. MSU finished 19-of-24 from the stripe, essentially neutralizing UNC's 22-for-30 showing. But Fish said his team's effort just getting to the line was the game's main storyline.

”Look at the free throws,” Fish said. “We were 19 of 24 from the line. Instead of accepting jump shots we drove the ball to the basket. In eight or nine games we lost leads because we settled for jump shots, but tonight we stayed aggressive. We've had those looks before, but tonight we stayed aggressive and earned the win.”

Zach Green set the tone for the night by converting an and-one layup on the game's first possession. Back-to-back layups by Dison pushed MSU's lead to 7-1, Marcus Colbert's triple made it 10-1, and Stephan Holm hit one to make the lead a dozen. While MSU was building its lead, Northern Colorado missed its first three shots and turned the ball over three times. The Bobcats grabbed the game's first 10 rebounds.

The Cats played with a double-digit lead for most of the first half, but a 16-3 Bears run to close the half drew UNC to within six. UNC out-shot the Cats (48% to 46.9%) in the first half, and forced seven turnovers while giving it away only five times. But MSU held a 21-to-14 advantage on the boards.

After Northern Colorado tied the game in the second half, the Bobcats responded. MSU hit six of its next seven shots from the floor, and finished the game converting 14 of their last 20 field goal tries.

“This game could have gone either way the last 20 minutes,” Fish said. “They kept fighting.”

Standout individual performances were easy to find on the Bobcats' box score. Stephan Holm scored 18 off the bench, while Marcus Colbert added 13 points and four assists. Eric Norman snagged eight rebounds and blocked five shots. MSU shot 51.7% for the game, 57.1% in the second half, and out-rebounded UNC 37-to-32.

The win raises MSU's record to 5-19 overall, 2-9 in the league. Northern Colorado drops to 12-11 overall, 7-5 in the conference. Montana State plays at North Dakota at 1 pm MT Saturday in a game televised by Fox Sports North.


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