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Montana men secure third win in a row behind balanced scoring

Montana men secure third win in a row behind balanced scoring

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MISSOULA — The Montana men's basketball team led wire to wire on Friday night, beating outmanned Warner Pacific, 92-61.

All 11 Grizzlies played and scored, with four players reaching double figures.

Sophomore Eddy Egun came off the bench to play 24 minutes and score 14 points. The guard also added five rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot.

If not for limited minutes, several Grizzles probably  would have recorded double-doubles. Freshman Josh Bannan hauled in 11 rebounds while scoring eight points; sophomore Kyle Owens scored 11 points to go along with nine rebounds; and junior Cameron Parker shot 5 of 7 from the floor to total 13 points while tallying seven assists.

In addition to having all 11 players score, eight reached seven or more points. Ten different players recorded a rebound and six tallied an assist.

"I thought it was important to see some guys play well who haven't had a lot of minutes, and to have some guys who have played a lot of minutes cut back and stay fresh," UM coach Travis DeCuire said. "We were able to do that, and we'll try and do that again tomorrow."

As a team, Montana out-shot Warner Pacific, .516 to .373, and out-rebounded the Knights by 10 (42 to 32).

Montana didn't allow Warner Pacific to score for nearly 4 minutes to open the contest and built a double-digit advantage less than 10 minutes in, 22-11, on one of Josh Vazquez's four 3-pointers. Montana led by 17 at the break and by at least 20 points over the final 9 minutes.

At the end of the day, DeCuire got what he wanted from Friday. The Grizzlies earned a victory – with several different players stepping up – but even bigger, they'll get an opportunity to do it again tomorrow.

Despite everything Montana has had to endure during this pandemic-altered season, the one thing it hasn't done is play on back-to-back nights. Next week in Boise, Idaho, should Montana continue to win, it will need to do that.

So Friday's win was a start, but really, it's just the first step – and the easier one – of a two-part process.

"It was good to get a win tonight, but the biggest thing is actually tomorrow," DeCuire said. "We need a response tomorrow as if we didn't play tonight. What the guys do between now and tomorrow will be huge.

"This is an opportunity in terms of postgame body treatment, the rest that you get, the things that you eat and the pregame routine when you don't have a gym to shoot around and walk through. The biggest thing about these two games is to set us up well for next week."

If Montana can do that, it will enter the Big Sky Championship on a four-game winning streak and riding momentum.

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