First seen in The Montana Kaimin
The Griz knocked Weber State out of the number one position in Big Sky conference rankings on Saturday night with a 75-68 win at Dahlberg Arena. Strong defense from Montana limited shot attempts for the Wildcats and created points for the Griz off forced turnovers.
Montana now sits at second rank behind Northern Colorado, who the team beat on the road earlier this month.
The Griz opened up the game with an 8-0 run, before Weber quickly pulled within two points. DeCuire called a timeout, and the next 20 points went to the Griz. The game was within five points in the second half, but the Griz stuck to tough defense and never let the Wildcats lead.
Travis DeCuire said the number one priority for the team was transition defense.
The teams hovered equally in shot percentages, but the Griz dominated in dunks and points off forced turnovers. They collected 25 points from defensive pressure and seven steals. Weber didn’t have a single steal or a point from a forced turnover. The Wildcats turned the ball over 14 times compared to the Griz’ six turnovers.
The emotions ran high in Dahlberg arena, which was packed with over 5,500 fans.
“When we have high emotions and we actually care about winning, we play better that way. We were able to do that tonight,” redshirt senior guard Ahmaad Rorie said. Rorie put up 13 points and three assists.
The team restrained Jerrick Harding, Weber’s shooting standout, but he still hit his average in points per game. The difference came in the Griz creating more shooting opportunities on offense than the Wildcats did through tough defense.
Jamar Akoh, a redshirt senior forward, collected 25 points and 10 rebounds, both team highs. He fouled out with less than two minutes to go. Junior guard Sayeed Pridgett tallied 12 points and three assists.
The team played well-roundedly and used individual players’ strengths to beat Weber. “We took away their rhythm,” DeCuire said.
On offense the Griz moved the ball efficiently and at a fast pace, creating space for shots in the paint. Montana scored 34 points in the paint compared to Weber’s 26.
The Griz will now gear up to play Montana State on the road at 7 p.m. Feb. 2, 2019, in Bozeman.