Montana cruises to 63-48 win over Montana State
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) Mario Dunn and Martin Breunig scored 17 points apiece to lead Montana to a 63-48 win over Montana State on Saturday night.
Breunig made it a double-double by adding 11 rebounds for new Montana coach Travis DeCuire's first win over the Bobcats in his first try at the helm of his alma mater.
''It's a different perspective than as a player,'' DeCuire said. ''It was a big deal for us to come in here and win this first one.''
Montana opened the game with a 7-0 burst to build a lead it never gave up, taking a 29-19 edge into halftime, while the Bobcats (3-13, 0-4 Big Sky) struggled to gain momentum offensively. MSU shot just 26 percent from the floor, and at one point had made only 10 of 47 shots.
''We had 15 missed layups,'' said Montana State head coach Brian Fish, also in his first season with the team. ''Division I players on scholarship have got to be able to finish inside.''
The second half didn't get any better for the Cats. Midway through the period, Montana (8-8, 4-1) built a commanding 51-28 lead, despite just three points from guard Jordan Gregory, who is the team's second-leading scorer averaging 17.6 points per game.
But DeCuire said the team's defense made up for Gregory's off night, as the Grizzlies, the No. 3 defense in the Big Sky at 67.8 points per game, held Montana State to 3 of 19 from the field to start the second half.
''We've talked about winning games when we're struggling offensively,'' DeCuire said. ''When Jordan struggled the way he did with his jump shot tonight, for us to be up by ten at half is huge.''
Much of that was thanks to Dunn, whose 17 points were a career high. The guard also added four assists and three steals, benefiting from the defensive double-teaming the Bobcats were trying to contain Martin with.
Montana State guard Marcus Colbert said that was part of the game plan, but Dunn was simply too hot even after they adjusted.
''He hit some big shots and so we changed it up, and he still hit another one,'' Colbert said.
The Bobcats mounted a late comeback attempt behind three straight 3-pointers by Michael Dison who ended the game as MSU's leading scorer with 17 points on 6 of 17 shooting, the only Bobcat to reach double-digits.
But a missed 3-pointer with less than four minutes to play followed by a coast -to-coast lay-in by Breunig ended the rally just as suddenly as it began, sending MSU to its ninth straight loss to the Griz.
Montana: The Grizzlies win completed a sweep of Montana State on Saturday for the basketball programs, as the Lady Griz beat the Bobcats 62-48 earlier in the day.
Montana State: The Bobcats have lost five straight games in Dahlberg Arena, and are currently on a nine-game losing streak, their longest since 2011.
DOUBLED UP: Breunig reached double-digits scoring for the 14th time in 16 games this season for Montana Saturday, and recorded his second double-double. The first came against Carroll College in November, when he posted 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Montana State hosts Southern Utah on Jan. 22
Montana hosts Northern Arizona on Jan. 22