First-place Montana Grizzlies destroy last place Idaho Vandals, 100-59

(Editor’s note: story by Montana Sports Information)

MISSOULA – Murphy’s Law states that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. The opposite, Yhprum’s Law, was in place Thursday night in Dahlberg Arena, with Montana scoring 100 points in a 41-point domination over Idaho, 100-59.

Whatever could go right for the Griz did go right.

Montana’s 41-point margin of victory was its largest in a game since December 2010, and its largest over a Big Sky foe since 1997. The Griz shot 56.3 percent from the floor, knocking down a season-high-tying 13 three-pointers. They had a season-high 23 assists and forced a season-most 22 turnovers, including a season-best 11 steals.

Eleven players scored, a season most. More than half – 53 – of Montana’s points came off the bench; the previous high in a game this season was 33. The Grizzlies jumped out to an early lead and never trailed, using a 31-6 run to close the first half.

Senior Donaven Dorsey knocked down four three-pointers during the run. He finished with a career-high 17 points and six rebounds. Junior Sayeed Pridgett led all players with 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting.

Game Notables
• Montana extended its win streak to a season-high six consecutive games dating back to Jan. 12.
• Montana’s 41-point win was its largest since beating Idaho – prior to the Vandals joining the Big Sky Conference – 75-33 in December 2010. The last time Montana beat a Big Sky opponent by at least 40 points was in 1996-97, when Montana beat Sacramento State 95-51. Montana led by as many as 44 points on Thursday.
• The 100 points scored were tied for the most veteran coach Don Verlin has ever given up. The only other time he has allowed 100 points was to No. 6 Michigan State.
• Montana jumped out to a 14-6 lead. At that point, the Griz defense had forced the Vandals into five turnovers and four missed shots in 11 possessions.
• The Grizzlies really opened the game up late in the first half. Leading 28-19, Montana went on a 31-6 run to close the half – inside of the large run were spurts of 14-0 and 22-2.
o Over the final 7:30 of the first half, Idaho shot 2-for-12 with five turnovers. Conversely, Montana was 12-for-14 with six three-pointers.
o Seven different Grizzlies scored during the run, including Dorsey, who hit four three-pointers during a stretch of 3:38.
• Dorsey finished the game with a career-high-tying 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting, in addition to career-high six rebounds. After scoring in double digits twice through the first 17 games played of the season, he has now done so in back-to-back games.
• Sayeed Pridgett scored Montana’s first six points and led the team with 21 on 8-of-9 shooting. It marked the third time this season he’s reached 20 points.
• Sophomore Timmy Falls had a nice game across the board, scoring nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from deep, in addition to four assists and two steals. Two of his treys came during Montana’s run in the first half.
• During one stretch, junior Kendal Manuel scored seven of nine Griz points, giving Montana a 19-10 lead. He finished the game with 12 points.
• Senior Michael Oguine passed Griz legend Will Cherry on the school’s all-time scoring list. Oguine now sits in eighth place with 1,488 career points. He will pass Wayne Tinkle with 13 more points.
• Montana’s all-conference trio of Jamar Akoh, Oguine and Ahmaad Rorie each average more than 30.0 minutes per game this season, but the three averaged just 13.0 minutes on Thursday, allowing them to rest and give the bench some minutes.
• Akoh had a season-high-tying five steals – all in the first half.
• Rorie facilitated the offense well, dishing out six assists to zero turnovers, in addition to his six points, despite limited playing time.
• Senior Bobby Moorehead tied a career high with four assists. He also scored seven points and collected four rebounds.
• Freshman Mack Anderson logged seven minutes, scoring five points and bringing down a career-high five rebounds.
• Montana turned the ball over just eight times, marking the fourth time in the past five games the Grizzlies have turned the ball over less than 10 times.
• Montana shot 56.3 percent from the field – the third-best percentage of the season – and tied a season high with 13 made three-pointers.
• During the first half, Montana was shooting 66.7 percent (22-of-33), including 61.1 percent from three-point range (11-of-18). The Grizzlies scored a season-high 59 first-half points and had already turned Idaho over 13 times.
• Through 10 minutes, the Vandals were shooting 54 percent from the field but trailed by double digits. They had seven made field goals and seven turnovers.

Quoting DeCuire
(on the statistic that stood out to him)
“Twenty-three assists to eight turnovers. We’ve been talking about the ball moving and sharing and passes advancing, as opposed to just dribbling up the floor in transition. Tonight was the first time we did it for 40 minutes, and you see the results of it.”

(on his bench scoring 53 points)
“The biggest thing in the first half is no one took more than five shots. To put 59 points on the board with no one taking more than five shots, it shows that we were moving the ball. Donny gave us a huge boost when he came in. We were a little sluggish to start, and then those guys came in and that’s when the ball started moving. Sharing is contagious.”

(on what he’ll tell his team Friday during film)
“We’ll start off on a couple things we can do better – we did give up 52 percent in the second half – but this is what it looks like when we do it right on both ends. We call them double bangs when you get a stop and go down and score, and we had a plethora of them tonight.”

Looking Ahead
Montana will look to extend its win streak to seven games and avenge one of its only conference losses. The Grizzlies host Eastern Washington Saturday (7 p.m.). A victory would be the 100th of Travis DeCuire’s career.

Derek Buerkle

Derek Buerkle

Derek has worked in sports at KPAX-TV in Missoula since 2007. He grew up in Big Timber, Montana, and attended the University of Montana journalism program.
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