Star of the game: Jordan Gregory. Gregory, another one of the Grizzlies’ Super Sophs, scored a career-high 21 points to lead the Griz. He was 5 for 11 from the field overall, 3 of 7 from 3-point range, and 8 for 8 at the line. Gregory is now shooting 86 percent from the line. As a team the Griz were 16 for 17 against the Hornets and are 47 for 51 in their last two games.
“Let’s keep it going,” was all Montana coach Wayne Tinkle would say about the free-throw shooting, wishing to not jinx his team.
Montana will honor seniors Mathias Ward and Will Cherry in its regular-season finale Saturday night against Northern Arizona. Ward is done for the season after having surgery on his injured left foot on Wednesday. Cherry, who has missed three straight games with an injury to his right foot, was in uniform Thursday night, but did not play. Rumor has it Cherry will see some minutes on Saturday.
The Griz can clinch the outright Big Sky crown with a win over NAU – or a Montana State win over Sac State – and the right to host the league’s seven-team postseason tournament, which will begin Thursday.
“This season has been a great season for all of us, a great learning experience, but our season is not done,” Gregory said. “We’re excited to keep on playing.
We’re going to go out there and work our hardest and good things happen to people who work hard.”
The Griz appeared fatigued late in Thursday’s game as they were playing for the third time in six days.
“Our locker room was pretty excited,” Tinkle said. “You’ll see a new sense of energy and enthusiasm Saturday night.”
Mutual admiration society
Tinkle and Sac State coach Brian Katz were very complimentary of each other’s teams following the game.
“You have to give Montana credit,” Katz said, acknowledging the injuries to Cherry and Ward. “With all the injuries they have , for them to hang together and scrap and fight … they’ve done a great job as a staff and their players are hanging tough. We have a lot of respect for them. We’re battling for our lives and so are they in a sense because they want to host the tournament. These games are supremely competitive. Everybody has injuries, but theirs hit at a bad time. There’s a reason they have a great program: They have great coaches and they have great players.”
The Griz couldn’t shake the Hornets until the final two minutes or so.
“Give them credit,” Tinkle said. “Coach Katz, I have so much respect for him. He gets everything out of his guys. He’s really turned around the culture there over the last few years. They battled their butts off and gave us a helluva game.”