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MEN’S HOOPS FALLS AT MONTANA, DROPS FIRST BIG SKY ROAD GAME OF THE YEAR

MEN’S HOOPS FALLS AT MONTANA, DROPS FIRST BIG SKY ROAD GAME OF THE YEAR

MISSOULA, Mont. — Montana shot a blistering 65% from the 3-point line (13-20) and held a big rebounding advantage (40-26) as the Grizzlies went on to an 87-56 victory over Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference game Thursday evening at Dahlberg Arena.

Sacramento State held Montana scoreless the first 3:57 of the game, and held a 25-22 lead over the Grizzlies with 8:15 left in the first half. However, it was all Montana from there as the Grizzlies closed the final eight minutes of the half on a 22-9 run to go into halftime with a 44-34 lead.

The Grizzlies then scored the first six points of the second half, and Sacramento State would get no closer than within 14 points of the lead the rest of the way. Montana outscored Sacramento State, 43-22, in the second half while burying eight of its 12 attempts from beyond the arc after halftime.

With the loss, Sacramento State, which was playing its first Big Sky road game of the season, dropped to 6-5 overall and 0-2 in league play. The Hornets were playing their first game of a stretch that will see the team play four of five games on the road.

Montana, which is the defending Big Sky regular season and tournament champions, was overwhelmingly selected to finish first in both the Big Sky preseason coaches and media polls. The Grizzlies won their fourth straight while improving 10-4 overall, 3-0 in conference play, and 5-0 at home. Montana has now won 20 straight games at home dating back to the 2016-17 season.

Missoula has never been kind to the Hornets as the team is now 2-24 all-time when playing Montana on its home floor. The last two games in Missoula, however, had been decided by two points with Montana winning in overtime last season (71-69) and Sacramento State winning two years ago by a 67-65 score.

Montana finished the game shooting 54% (31-57) from the field, which included 13-for-20 from the 3-point line and 12-of-17 from the free throw line. Sacramento State, meanwhile, shot 38% (21-55) from the field and 21% (3-14) from the 3-point line. After converting on three of its first seven 3-point attempts, Sacramento State missed each of its seven attempts from distance in the second half.

Sacramento State did force 19 Montana turnovers, and scored 21 points off those miscues. In addition, the Hornets held a 24-17 advantage in bench points.

No Hornet scored more than 10 points as Marcus Graves finished with 10 points, three rebounds and a game-high four steals. Chibueze Jacobs had eight points on 4-for-5 shooting and a career-high three steals while Joshua Patton had eight points on 4-for-5 shooting. For Patton, who was in foul trouble the majority of the evening limiting him to 19 minutes, it marked the first time all season the junior center did not score in double figures. Osi Nwachukwu posted six points.

Ten different Hornets scored in tonight's game, but six of those players were limited to five points or less. Bryce Fowler had five points, three rebounds and two steals, and Izayah Mauriohooho-Le'afa had five points and a team-best five rebounds.

Montana got huge nights from guard Ahmaad Rorie and forward Jamar Akoh. Rorie had 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 5-for-8 from distance. Akoh had 21 points and 18 rebounds, burying nine of his 16 attempts from the field.

Sacramento State returns to action in two days when it plays at Montana State on Saturday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. PST.