MISSOULA – The Montana Grizzlies couldn’t have asked for a better showing on Thursday night.
How do we know? Montana’s bench mob players Freddy Brown III, Ben Carter and Kelby Kramer — guys who don’t crack the regular rotation — all appeared in front of the Dahlberg Arena crowd with more than five minutes left in the contest. Carter even came in with 7:18 to play.
With sharp-shooting and even more lock-down defense, Montana topped Idaho 100-59 on Thursday night in front of 3,381 fans.
Junior Sayeed Pridgett led the Grizzlies with 21 points on 8-for-9 shooting while redshirt senior Donaven Dorsey built off of his strong showing last Saturday against Montana State with a UM career best of 17 points. Dorsey was 6 for 9 from the field, including 5 of 7 from deep. After missing his first attempt from beyond the arc, Dorsey made five straight, four of which came in the first half in the final four minutes. He added six rebounds to lead the Grizzlies.
Redshirt junior Kendal Manuel added 12 points in the win.
“We were trying to make sure everybody scored who got in the game,” Pridgett said. “We want everyone to succeed so that was a purpose for us was to put those guys in and score.”
Well, everyone on the team did score except for Carter. And when asked if they gave the true freshman any grief, Pridgett joked, “Yeah, we’re mad at him.”
But Montana coach Travis DeCuire was elated after the game when speaking about getting everyone into the game.
“That’s the best part is when you enjoy each other’s success,” DeCuire said. “That’s the only way to be successful and the only way to have a winning program. This is a place where it’s contagious because that’s how the community is.”
“Our veterans have done a good job of sharing the success with the young guys and then when they go in they enjoy it.”
Everything was on cruise control for UM from the get-go and the game took off when the Grizzlies led 28-19. DeCuire called a timeout with 8:27 to play to have what he described as a “heart-to-heart.” Whatever was said worked, and Montana held Idaho to just six more points in the half as the Griz went on to explode from beyond the arc and take a 59-25 lead into halftime. Along with Dorsey’s effort, sophomore Timmy Falls knocked down all three of his first-half attempts from deep and Manuel added two more as UM shot 11 for 18 from three in the opening half and 22 for 33 from the field.
“We weren’t playing that hard at that point,” DeCuire explained about the timeout. “We were kind of cruising and that’s when teams get hot and that’s when they start making shots and going on a roll. So we came out with a little more intensity, made some adjustments defensively, forced some turnovers and got in transition and that’s when that lead got big.”
The second half was more of the same from the Grizzlies, who were driven by 13 points from Pridgett. Montana’s ball movement and ability to find open players were the biggest key as the Griz assisted on 20 of their first 29 baskets and finished with 23 assists in total.
“I didn’t really score off of any isolation plays or anything like that. It was all my teammates setting me up and putting me in the right spot,” Dorsey said. “All credit to them.
“If we’re sharing the ball and having fun and if we play like that, I don’t think anybody in the country can beat us.”
Kramer scored the game's final two baskets, both off of offensive rebounds, to put the Grizzlies into triple digits.
Montana’s defense also looked sharp as it forced 22 turnovers against Idaho while committing only eight. Those turnovers turned into 35 points. Montana finished shooting 56.3 percent from the field and 48.1 percent from deep. The Grizzlies got 53 bench points as well.
Dorsey’s 17 points tie his college career high as well. He scored 17 points in his fourth college game for the University of Washington on Nov. 27, 2014 against San Jose State. The win over Idaho was Montana’s largest margin of victory since beating Idaho 75-33 on Nov. 22, 2010.
Montana hosts Eastern Washington on Saturday.
Notes: Senior Michael Oguine scored five points for Montana, which propelled him to No. 8 on Montana’s all-time scoring list with 1,488. He surpassed former Griz great Will Cherry who had 1,484. Redshirt senior Ahmaad Rorie, who sits at No. 10 on that list, scored six points on Thursday to move up to 1,477. … Redshirt senior Jamar Akoh landed hard on his knee and needed a sub toward the end of the first half. He played one minute in the second half but Montana led by so much they pulled him out. DeCuire said he’ll be fine for Saturday’s game against Eastern Washington.