Montana 76, Idaho State 40
Star of the game: Will Cherry. The junior guard scored 21 points and had three steals that he converted to buckets at the other end. In the process, Cherry moved up two spots to No. 24 on Montana’s career scoring list with 1,035 points, one point shy of No. 23 Jeremy Lake (1992-95). Cherry passed Matt Martin (1,021 from 2005-08) and Dan Balko (1,025 from 1958-60) on Monday.
Cherry said he was happy to be recognized for passing the 1,000-point plateau late in Monday’s game.
“Yeah, because I didn’t get a chance to get my 1,000 points in front of Dahlberg,” Cherry said. “When they announced it, it came as a surprise to me.”
Reasons for optimism:
1. 60. That’s total margin of victory for the Griz in their two wins this season over Idaho State, the team that handed Weber State its first loss just a little over a week ago. The Bengals just don’t match up well against the Griz.
“They were just physical with us; they’re just so much more physical,” ISU interim coach Deane Martin said of the Griz. “They have guys who can get up and guard our dribblers. They’d get up and knock it away from us, just crazy things like that. Then we’d start taking long shots instead of making them guard us.”
2. Derek Selvig. The senior had career highs of eight assists and six blocked shots against ISU.
“He’s a tough matchup, because you have to put a smaller guy on him and make him put it on the floor,” Martin said. “Then he can catch it up there with all that height and hit cutters, and they do a good job of spacing in their offense.”
3. Defense in general, Will Cherry’s defense in particular. ISU’s Kenny McGowen came into the game averaging 20.1 points in his previous five games. In two games against the Griz this season, McGowen has scored a TOTAL of nine points while being guarded primarily by Cherry. The Griz limited ISU to 24.6 percent shooting. In its last two games, Montana has given up a total of four 3-pointers on 28 attempts.
“Our defense really clicked it in,” Montana coach Wayne Tinkle said. “In ISU’s defense, they’ve been on the road a while, sitting around their hotel rooms. They were on a heckuva roll. They missed some shots they normally make, but over the course of the game it was a tribute to the focus our guys had on the defensive end.”
4. Rebounding. What has been an area of concern for the Griz was a strength Monday night. The Griz won the battle of the glass 40-27 behind eight from Kareem Jamar and four or more from five other players.
5. Miscellaneous stats. The Griz outscored ISU 38-16 in the paint, 23-9 off turnovers, 12-4 on second-chance points and 17-1 off the bench.
Reason for concern:
1. Two more games this week. The Griz are on the road Thursday at Northern Colorado and Saturday at Sacramento State, teams that are both battling to make the six-team postseason field. If the Griz could get another road sweep, they’d complete their Big Sky road schedule at 7-1 and have their final three games at home, but playing their third and fourth games in an eight-day span won’t make it easy.