By NIC HALLISEY
Montana stretched its win streak to double digits on Thursday, knocking off Northern Colorado, 88-79.
The 10-game win streak marks the 10th time in school history that Montana has won 10 or more games in a row, including the eighth time against all Division-I opponents. Montana has won six in a row on the road, tied for the seventh-longest active streak
“It was an emotional win where guys were fighting,” head coach Travis DeCuire said. “You’ve got to fight and you’ve got to battle, and we did that.”
Senior Fabijan Krslovic scored a season-high 21 points, leading all Grizzlies. Fifteen of his 21 points came in the second half, including a stretch early in the period in which he scored six in a row and 12 of Montana’s first 21 second-half points.
DeCuire knew that UNC wouldn’t leave Montana’s guards, which would leave Krslovic one on one.
“We gave him a heads up before the game we were going to go to him tonight, so be ready to perform,” DeCuire said. “I thought he was ready to go, and that jump hook was looking sweet tonight.”
It marked the first time this season that a player other than Ahmaad Rorie, Michael Oguine or Jamar Akoh has led the Griz in scoring.
The Grizzlies led by as many as 15 points in the first half, but after beginning the game 3-for-14 shooting, Northern Colorado made 10 of its final 12 shots to enter the break tied at 37-37. The Grizzlies, though, would begin the second half on a 17-4 run to once again take control.
“One-on-one play got them back in the game,” DeCuire said of UNC’s first-half run. “We were giving up layups around the rim. It was time for us to tighten up and play by our rules. Once we did that, we got stops and we got rebounds.”
In addition to Krslovic’s 21 points and eight rebounds, junior Bobby Moorehead also had a season high with 17 points on four three-pointers, in addition to a team-most nine boards.
“Fab and Bob were bigtime for us,” DeCuire said.
Five Grizzlies scored at least nine points, including Rorie (18), Akoh (13) and Sayeed Pridgett (nine). Oguine was held to five points and missed the final 16 minutes after injuring his leg. DeCuire said he could have re-entered the game, but was held out to rest him for Saturday.
Montana never trailed in the contest, and while the Grizzlies led by double digits for the majority of the second half, Northern Colorado never fully went away, getting within six points with under 2 minutes to play. Every time UNC would chip away, Montana would fire back.
The Grizzlies shot 55.2 percent on the night, including 69.2 percent during the second half – 4-of-5 from beyond the arc in the second period. UNC, which made 14 three-pointers last month in Missoula, was held to 8-of-26 shooting from long range.
“I thought we did an incredible job defending,” DeCuire said. “It’s about as good as you’re going to do against them, especially since two of those were step-back threes.”
The Grizzlies out-rebounded the Bears, 42-32. A total of 50 fouls were called in the game, resulting in 60 free throw attempts.
Montana will now travel to North Dakota, looking to keep the momentum of a 10-0 start to conference play going. The Fighting Hawks held off Montana State, 75-74, earlier on Thursday evening. Tipoff on Saturday is slated for 3 p.m. MT and can be watched on Eleven Sports, in addition to streamed on Pluto TV and WatchBigSky.com.
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