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MENâ€™S BASKETBALL GOES COLD FROM THE FIELD IN LOSS AT MONTANA
MISSOULA, Mont. -- Montana used a 29-6 run spanning more than 15 minutes of both the first and second halves, and eventually defeated Sacramento State, 64-44, in a Big Sky Conference men’s basketball game Thursday evening at Dahlberg Arena.
Both teams played fairly even for more than 12 minutes of the first half as a layup by freshman Jackson Carbajal pulled Sacramento State within, 21-19, with 7:29 left before halftime. However, Montana would then close the half on an 12-4 run, and open the second half on a 17-2 run to take a 50-25 lead and put the game away. During the 29-6 spurt, Sacramento State turned the ball over nine times while converting just 2-of-15 from the field. After falling down by the 25-point deficit, the Hornets would get no closer than 19 points the rest of the evening.
The 50-25 lead also proved to be Montana’s largest of the night as the Grizzlies never trailed from start to finish. Montana outscored the Hornets, 33-23, in the first half and 31-21 in the second half.
Cold shooting was a common theme for Sacramento State all evening as the team finished the game 31.4 percent (16-51) from the floor (the Hornets’ second lowest percentage of the season). Sacramento State shot 32.0 percent in the first half and 30.8 percent in the second half. That included knocking down just two three-pointers, one shy of a season low. Part of the reason for the low field goal percentage was Montana’s defense, which accumulated eight blocked shots, including six from center Brian Qvale.
Meanwhile, Montana forced 19 Hornet turnovers and scored 20 points off those miscues. The Grizzlies shot 41.5 percent (22-53) from the field and 46.7 percent (7-15) from the three-point line. Sacramento State did outrebound Montana by a 40-33 margin, but failed to fully take advantage of 19 offensive rebounds (scoring just 13 second-chance points). The Hornets have now grabbed at least 10 offensive rebounds in eight straight games.
Sacramento State (6-17, 3-9) had won three of its last four prior to this evening’s loss. The Hornets fell to 0-12 on the road this season, and 5-30 all-time against Montana. The Hornets lost to Montana by a 68-52 score earlier this year in Sacramento and have now dropped nine straight meetings in the series between the two teams.
Sacramento State remains two games behind the sixth and final Big Sky Tournament spot with just four league games remaining on the schedule. The top six teams in the nine-member league reach the postseason event and Montana State (5-7) currently holds the sixth and final spot. Sacramento State will play at Montana State this Sunday at 11 a.m. PST.
Montana (17-7, 9-3) continued its dominance at home, improving to 11-1 in Missoula, including perfect 6-0 against conference competition this season. The Grizzlies have not lost a home game since Dec. 3, a span of eight consecutive victories in Missoula.
Four Montana players had double figures in points, comprised of Kareem Jamar (14 points, six rebounds), Qvale (14 points, six blocks), Derek Selvig (12 points, six rebounds, three steals) and Art Steward (10 points, five steals). Those four players combined to score 50 of the team’s 64 points.
For Sacramento State, senior Sultan Toles-Bey led the way with 11 points to go along with six rebounds and three assists. Senior Duro Bjegovic had 10 points and six rebounds, but failed to hit a three-pointer for the first time in 13 games. Sophomore John Dickson had just eight points (3-of-12 shooting) and saw his streak of 11 straight games with double figures in points come to a close. That had been the second longest active streak in the Big Sky. The team’s two leading scorers (Toles-Bey and Dickson) combined to shoot just 5-of-23 from the field.
Juniors Walter Jackson and Heath Hoffman both had six rebounds, and Carbajal added six points and four rebounds for the Hornets.
Sunday’s contest at Montana State is Altitude’s Big Sky Game of the Week and will be televised at 11 a.m. PST. Altitude, which is a regional sports network that serves the Rocky Mountain region, is offered locally with the sports package on both DirecTV (channel 681) and Dish Network (channel 410).
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