Idaho State (4-13) at Montana (12-4)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 24, 9 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dahlberg Arena (7,500) -- Missoula, Montana. Television: None. Home Record: Idaho State 3-3. Montana 7-1. Away Record: Idaho State 1-7, Montana 5-3. Neutral Record: Idaho State 0-3, Montana 0-0. Conference Record: Idaho State 3-5, Montana 8-0. Series Record: Montana leads, 94-44.
GAMES NOTES: The Montana Grizzlies look to keep pace at the top of the Big Sky Conference standings when they take on the Idaho State Bengals in a conference battle at Dahlberg Arena on Thursday night.
Idaho State lost at home to Northern Arizona, 60-55, last Saturday to deny the Bengals their second two-game winning streak of the season. The campaign has been filled with more losses than wins for the Bengals who are just 4-13 overall on the campaign. However the Bengals have managed to be competitive in conference action with a mark of 3-5 against league foes. In road contests the Bengals have struggled with just one win in eight trips.
In a hard-fought contest with instate rival Montana State, the Grizzlies came out on top, 76-61, in overtime. The win was the eighth straight for Montana. At 8-0 in conference play the Grizzlies are tied for first place in the conference with Weber State, which the Grizzlies will face next. Montana has been tough to top at Dahlberg Arena where it is 7-1 this season.
Montana has largely dominated this series all-time with a 94-44 edge against Idaho State. The Grizzlies have also won five straight contests against the Bengals.
In a tightly contested matchup with Northern Arizona a 6-0 spurt in the final minutes proved decisive for the Lumberjacks against Idaho State. The Bengals were outscored 24-9 from beyond the arc in the contest while also being victim to a 36-27 deficit on the boards.
The Bengals are dead last in the conference in just about every offensive category including points (53 ppg), assists (9.4 pg) and field-goal percentage (.391). On top of that the Bengals are last in the league in rebounding (27.1 pg). On the defensive end the Bengals let up just 61.6 points per game on 43.5 percent shooting but that has been more than enough to out-gun Idaho State. Melvin Morgan (12.1 ppg) is the lead scorer on the roster, but has shot at just a 36.3 percent clip.
A 3-pointer with three seconds in regulation from Mike Weisner saved Montana and forced overtime against Montana State. In the extra session the Grizzlies scored the first six points and were able to hold on in the final seconds. Montana hit 2-of-3 field goal attempts and 6-of-8 from the free-throw line in the decisive overtime.
Montana has been a more productive offensive team than Idaho State. The Grizzlies are ranked third in the conference in both points per game (70.6) and assists (13.8 pg), while managing in the second best percentage from the field (.464). Leading the charge is Mathias Ward (15.2 ppg), who has done so with a ton of efficiency as he shoots at a 52.7 percent clip from the field. Kareem Jamar (14.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 4.2 apg) is another strong scorer but he may be even more important for how well he has contributed in numerous other areas. Will Cherry (11.8 ppg, 4.8 apg) has been working his way back to his form of a year ago when he scored more than 15 points per game. The 6-foot-1 guard missed the first seven games but has been in double figures in seven of the nine games he has played.
The trio of Ward, Jamar and Cherry alone gives Montana more than enough offensive options to take care of the offensively challenged Bengals.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montana 75, Idaho State 60
01/24 10:35:39 ET