Montana Men's Hoops Defeat Portland State on the Road - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Montana Men's Hoops Defeat Portland State on the Road

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Once again it was a tale of two halves for the Montana Grizzlies, but unlike in Sacramento on Thursday, the Grizzlies exploded for 52 points in the second half, thanks in large part from a career high night of 32 points for Martin Breunig, who led UM to a 82-80, come from behind win over Portland State in Oregon on Saturday.
 
The win puts Montana at 14-8 on the season overall, and 9-2 in conference play. Thanks to a Weber State loss at North Dakota on Saturday, the win also puts the Grizzlies back on top of the Big Sky Conference table.
 
Breunig accounted for 26 of his 32 points, and Walter Wright tallied 15 of his 17 points all in the second half, as Montana avenged the loss earlier in the week at Sacramento State to split the road trip to the West Coast.
 
Montana entered the halftime break trailing the Vikings 30-39. After some choice words from Coach Travis DeCuire, the Grizzlies came out of the locker room and shot 60 percent from the field en route to the win.
 
"We got a little more aggressive," said Coach DeCuire, analyzing his team's second half performance. "We were kind of passive in the fist half, but we finally got some stops. Once we were able to put a few consecutive stops together it changed the momentum of the game, and once it became a game of possessions, we executed a lot better on both sides of the ball and it gave us a chance to pull it out."
 
With the PSU defense pressing up on Breunig in the first half, one of the keys to the second half surge by the Griz was to get the ball to him over top of the defense, allowing him to get off uncontested shots around the rim.
 
"When Martin gets to the rim and there's no one there, he's going to shoot that at a high percentage," added Coach DeCuire.
 
And he did, helping Montana to a total of 42 points in the paint.
 
Breunig was also a monster on the boards, pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds, and helping the Grizzlies to a dominant performance on the glass, outrebounding the Vikings 14-4 on offensive boards.  
 
"I'm glad my teammates were able to get me the ball, and I'm grateful they have so much trust in me," said Breunig after putting up ninth double-double of the season. "At halftime, he (DeCuire) made it clear that I needed to play better offensively and defensively, and he held me accountable. I knew I had to respond."
 
Breunig and the Griz seemed to have the formula for victory down early in the first half, as UM jumped out to a 12-10 lead thanks to three buckets from Breunig and a pair of rebounds.
 
But the Vikings wouldn't go down without a fight, going on a 9-2 run and taking their first lead of the game with 12 minutes left in the half at 14-12. Portland State would maintain the lead for the next 24 minutes of play.
 
As the Grizzly offense flattened, Breunig was seeing less minutes while stuck on six points. Breunig's absence cleared the way for Jack Lopez to give some much needed spark, scoring seven points in a row with a pair of jumpers and a three-pointer that closed the PSU lead to 37-28 with less than a minute till halftime.
 
With renewed focus after the break, the Grizzlies came out and couldn't miss. The only problem was, Portland State couldn't miss either and the home team stayed one step ahead of the Griz, eventually building their largest lead of the game at 11 with under 18 minutes to play.  
 
Just as the Griz did in the first half, the Vikings then went on a scoring drought that lasted three minutes, allowing Montana to climb the hill and close the gap to two points at the 14 minute mark.
 
With the Vikings on their heels, the Grizzlies kept mounting pressure until UM regained the lead for the first time in the second half on a three-pointer from Walter Wright that put UM up 64-63 with 6:21 to play.
 
From there, the Grizzlies kept the defense tight and managed to control possession enough to leave Portland with the 82-80 win.
 
With Weber State losing at North Dakota, and Idaho falling at Northern Arizona, the Grizzlies now regain the top spot in the Big Sky, despite splitting the weekend road trip.
 
"We figured out how to get the win, so under those circumstances we'll take the split," added Coach DeCuire. "We weren't too happy about it going into the game, but now that we're getting ready to get out of here and go home and defend our home court, we feel good about the split."
 
After a three-game road stretch (their longest of the season) the Grizzlies now return to Dahlberg Arena for a three-game home stand, getting set to host NAU and Southern Utah on Feb. 11 and 13, and Montana State on Feb. 20. 

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