Griz take two game lead in Big Sky
The Montana Grizzlies Improve to 10-0 in the Big Sky with their 76-74 win over Weber State.
Saturday's win wrapped up the first half of the conference season for the Grizzlies, which finished with a perfect 10-0 league record, and they improved to 14-4 overall. It was the 21st Big Sky win in a row for Montana.
The first half was a back-and-forth battle with seven lead changes and six ties. The Wildcats took a 36-35 halftime lead on two free throws by senior guard Scott Bamforth with 1:18 left until the break.
Both teams shot well from the field and the free throw line, but both struggled from 3-point range. Montana shot just over 45 percent from the floor and converted 30-of-33 free throws for a season-high 90.9%. At one point the Griz had made 28-of-29 free throws before missing two in the final 24 seconds.
Weber State shot just under 52 percent the highest shooting percentage for a Griz opponent this season, and the Wildcats were 17-of-21 (81.0%) from the stripe.
The Grizzlies led for most of the second half, and it looked like they had the game under control when they went up by eight points at 74-66, on a pair of free throws by Will Cherry with 41 seconds remaining in the contest.
Shortly after Cherry made his two free throws, Griz sophomore guard Keron DeShields converted one of his two free shots, giving Montana a 75-70 lead with 24 seconds remaining. But the Wildcats scored on a driving lay-up on their next possession, making the score 75-72 with 18 seconds left to play.
Cherry went to the line with 14 seconds to go, and made the first of his two charity shots - his 15th in a row, but missed the second, giving the Wildcats one final opportunity. WSU junior guard-forward Davion Berry tried a desperation 3-pointer, from just a couple of feet over the mid-court line, and his shot came up short.
Cherry scored a season-high 28 points, and was one of four UM players in double figures. Cherry made 6-of-11 shots and was 15-of-16 from the line. Griz senior forward Mathias Ward and junior guard-forward Kareem Jamar scored 11 points each, while junior forward Spencer Coleman chipped in 10. Cherry's 28 points give him 1,332 for his career moving him up to eighth on UM's career list.
Montana begins the second half of its Big Sky schedule on the road next week, playing at Portland State on Thursday, Jan. 31, and at Eastern Washington, Saturday, Feb. 2. WSU is at North Dakota and at Northern Colorado next week.