MISSOULA — Jamar Akoh tipped in the ball off a miss. He put back another off a missed 3-pointer. He found the basket again on a pick and roll.
The 6-foot-8 redshirt junior, who sat out last season after he transferred from Cal State Fullerton, led all players with 16 points during Tuesday’s Maroon-Silver Scrimmage at Dahlberg Arena.
A potentially versatile inside and outside player, he made his presence known down low as his Maroon team beat the Silver squad 51-39 in a game that showcased the Grizzlies’ new depth, height and 3-point shooting.
“I felt good,” said Akoh, who also grabbed five rebounds and tallied one assist, one steal and one block. “I was really excited to get out here in front of the fans and give them a little taste of what’s going to happen this season. It was really fun.”
Karl Nicholas, a 6-foot-7 freshman, finished with six points, eight rebounds and two steals. He added one block of Akoh and then ran the floor, got a bounce pass in transition from Sayeed Pridgett and threw down a dunk.
His basket brought the Silver team of mostly newcomers within 24-23 of the veteran-laden Maroon squad, which featured all three of Montana’s returning starters. Although head coach Travis DeCuire was looking to switch up the teams for the second half, the Silver squad asked to remain together to try to pull off the upset.
The hot start didn’t carry over to the second half as the Maroon team used an early 10-0 run and outscored the Silver squad 26-16.
“The young guys showed up today for sure,” said junior Bobby Moorehead. “I think we just came out to a really slow start, and it hurt us. We didn’t play down. They definitely played up and attacked.
“We’d been beating up on them in practice, so I think we took them lightly.”
The teams combined for eight three pointers on 40 percent shooting (8 of 20) across the two 10-minute halves. The Griz averaged 7.4 3-pointers per game on 35.7 percent shooting last season.
Moorehead led all players with three 3-pointers in scoring 11 points and grabbing three boards. Sophomore Niko Bevens, a junior college transfer from North Idaho, scored 12 points and sunk a pair of 3-pointers.
Redshirt junior Ahmaad Rorie went for 13 points and two 3-pointers, while Trever Spoja knocked down one 3-pointer.
“We’ve been working a lot on our shot,” Moorehead said. “We weren’t necessarily trying to show anything with the 3s. I just think we’re going to shoot it well this year.”
Added DeCuire: “Some of the 3s came from really good offense in terms of setting good screens and execution of transition. The penetration into the paint was really a big issue for us. Timmy Falls, Sayeed Pridgett got into the paint, and those were off of screens away from the ball, and we just weren’t guarding those properly. So we have to make some adjustments and do a better job with that.”
DeCuire said the focus will be on defensive principles leading up to the exhibition game against Saskatchewan on Nov. 6 in Missoula.
“I think that right now we’re not playing by our rules; we’re just playing,” DeCuire said. “We need to fight through screens. We need to hammer ball screens. Just all actions off the ball, we have to do a better job with. Some of it’s the young guys. I’m not sure the veterans are necessarily playing by our rules today. I think we need to become a more consistent team on the defensive side of the ball.”
NOTES: Senior Fabijan Krslovic and freshman Kelby Kramer finished with seven rebounds apiece. … Redshirt junior Mike Oguine tallied four points, four assists and three rebounds. … Freshman Admir Besovic had six points, three rebounds and one steal. … Freshman Timmy Falls had six points, two assists, two rebounds and one steal. … "The young guys were very active," DeCuire said. "I was impressed by that."