MISSOULA, Mont., March 1 – A.J. Hess scored 13 points and pulled down eight rebounds for Southern Utah but Montana’s Kareem Jamar scored 25 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists on senior night to lead the Grizzlies to an 82-54 Big Sky win over Thunderbirds Saturday night.
The Grizzlies hit 30-of-54 shots (55.6 percent) in the game, including 11-of-23 from 3-point range, while holding the Thunderbirds to 18-of-54 shooting (.333), 4-of-10 from long distance.
“Coming off one of our best games of the year at Montana State on Thursday night we just weren’t mentally prepared tonight,” SUU Coach Nick Robinson said. “We need to do a better job preparing our team.
“Kareem had a good night again tonight, as he usually does, hitting shots, getting to the basket and just playing a good overall game,” Robinson added. “Defensively we really struggled. We struggled to keep Jamar in front of us and some other playaers in front of us, and then they got some good contributions from their bench. (Mike) Weisner came in and hit some shots and really gave them a lift.”
Montana used an 18-4 run over a 5:30 stretch of the first half to turn a 20-14 game into a 38-18 affair with 2:17 to go in the period. Weisner scored eight points during the run, hitting a 3-pointer to start the run, then after SUU got back within 25-18 on a 3-point play by John Marshall Weisner drilled another shot from downtown, then made it a 30-18 game with a pair of free throws.
SUU missed opportunites on the offensive end on the following three possessions, allowing Karon DeSheilds to drive coast-to-coast to give UM a 34-18 lead, Jamar to add a basket inside, then DeSheilds made it a 38-18 with another drive.
Marshall converted another 3-point play to pull the Thundebrirds back within 38-21 with 2:07 to go, but Jamar hit his third 3-pointer of the half and after another SUU miss Brandon Gfeller knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to stake the Griz to a 44-21 lead at halftime.
SUU hit just 6-of-30 first half shots, 3-of-6 from 3-point range, while the Griz hit 15-of-26 shots, 6-of-11 from long range in the period.
The Grizzlies scored on their first four possessions of the second half, including 3-pointers by DeSheilds and Mario Dunn, and went on to build the lead to as many as 33 before settling for the 82-54 win.
Trey Kennedy came off the bench to score 10 points for the Thunderbirds, while Marhsall and Oliverson each finished with eight.
Weisner finished with 17 points and seven rebounds for the Griz, while Chris Kemp added 10 points.
SUU dipped to 1-26, 0-18 in Big Sky play while UM improved to 15-11, 10-7 in league play.