Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Huge Weekend in the Big Sky (Part 1)

Following a short sabattical, I missed a lot in the Big Sky. From the fantastic games Thursday night the upset of the year on Saturday night, and a barnburner on Sunday (not to mention some off the court happenings), it was a very interesting weekend. Let's take a quick peek at the biggest stories for each team (Note: I planned on just making this one post... but it got a bit long, so let's turn it into a couple!)

- Things got off to a rocky start on Thursday, as Montana was simply the better team than EWU.The Grizzlies jumped out to a big first half lead, and even though EWU made some runs in the second half, they could not overcome Montana, losing 74-60. A few guys had a nice day (such as Collin Chiverton, Cliff Ederaine, and Laron Griffin, but Cliff Colimon struggled again. He finished with 7 points on 2/12 shooting, turning it over 7 times. He needs to be an above average PG for them.

- EWU was able to bounce back on Saturday, as they beat previously 6-2 Montana State by 17 at home, really putting together an outstanding defensive performance. The Bobcats had been playing great basketball, so this was big for the Eagles. They were led by the big guys - Cliff Ederaine had 17 points and 8 rebounds, Laron Griffin had 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Tremayne Johnson threw in 11 and 8 off the bench. This has been seen as kind of a guard-oriented team, but the frontcourt has been producing.


- WOW!

- I thought they would win a tight one over Northern Colorado, and that is what happened. What I didn't expect was for it to really be one of the most entertaining games of the whole Big Sky season. The last 8 minutes plus both overtimes were back and forth and high action, eventually ending with ISU winning 99-94 in double OT to improve to .500 in conference play. Chase Grabau continued his incredible play, finishing with 30 points on 11/15 shooting before fouling out. He wasn't alone. Melvin Morgan has 22, and Kenny McGowen had 18. Even Sherrod Baldwin stepped up and hit a huge shot down the stretch.

- Of course, the excitement of winning that game only lasted for two days... when it was replaced by even bigger excitement! Idaho State pulled off the upset of the year in the Big Sky, shocking Weber State and the college basketball world by winning 64-62 on a last second three. If you have not yet, go to Big Sky TV and watch the ending of this one, you will not be disappointed. With Weber State up 62-61 with the ball and just over a minute left, the Wildcats got two good looks at the basket. Kyle Tresnak missed an open 16 footer, but the rebound came out to Damian Lillard. He eventually got a good look at a straight on three, but was way short. ISU got the ball and worked it around, eventually having the ball in Chase Grabau hands with just a few seconds left. He looked like he was going to go up and shoot a tough, double pumper shot, but at the last moment passed it over to senior Kenny McGowen, who was alone in the corner. The rest is history, as McGowen buried it as time expired.

- Coach Deane Martin said, " We knew if we could get it into Kenny's hand or Mel's hand we could get off a ball screen and make something happen. We got fortunate that Kenny got loose to get the shot at the end. You had to let players be players and let them make plays.”

- The fans are starting to come out as well, as their attendance of 3,309 was the most they have had since 2008. They certainly have reason to be excited, as they have won three straight, including doing what nobody else in the Big Sky has been able to do - beat Weber State.


- Going to Eastern Washington and Portland State is a tough road trip, but the Grizzlies handled it with aplomb. They started off by giving Wayne Tinkle a nice birthday present, going into Cheney and playing some really solid basketball. The Eagles played well in the second half, but the Griz simply made too many plays. Art Steward was the star, playing all forty minutes and going off for 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists. Will Cherry struggled offensively but contributed in other ways, including defensively, where he was instrumental in shutting down Cliff Colimon. Finally, Kareem Jamar was a star again, with an excellent all-around game of 15 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds, also playing the full game.

- Sunday followed a similar script, but it was a little tighter for the Griz. They led by as many as 14 points in the second half, but had to hold on for dear life for a 69-67 win over Portland State. After Mathias Ward made one of two with four seconds left, the Grizzlies played great defense to stop Gary Winston from getting off a shot, sealing another road win. Wayne Tinkle used mainly a 6-man rotation, and they were led by Will Cherry's 20 points (putting him over 1,000 on his career). Ward also had 18.

- The win was big for the Grizzlies because they are now in a tie for first place, by virtue of Weber State losing to Idaho State. Montana is now 8-1 in the Big Sky and 14-6 overall.


- I thought the Bobcats should be pretty satisfied with a split in their road trip, and that is what happened. They started things with a thrilling come-from-behind win on Thursday night in Portland. The Bobcats trailed by 15 with under 12 to play, but came back thanks to a great defensive effort.

The Bobcats fixed the situation, answering Portland State's 18-2 run to open the second half with an 11-0 spurt over the next eight minutes to trim the lead to 58-54. In fact, from the point of PSU's 58-43 lead with 11:39 to play, Montana State outscored the Vikings 27-7.
It was a big win for MSU, sweeping the season series over the Vikings. The biggest play of the game was made by Shawn Reid, who made a "No no no yes yes yes!" three-pointer with 29 seconds left to give the Bobcats the 67-65 lead, which they would not relinquish. But really, the biggest was the fact that the defense, which has struggled at times, was outstanding at the end of the game. That is the biggest reason they got this win.

- On Saturday, they had a bit of a letdown, going into Cheney and getting beat soundly by a desperate Eastern Washington team. MSU shot 25% in the second half and turned the ball over 20 times, which is a great recipe for getting blown out. They are still 6-3 in conference play, and have to be feeling good about themselves.

The next part will be coming soon! What are your guys' thoughts on what went down?

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  1. Is it possible to view past games on Big Sky TV? I went to that link, logged in, but didn't see the game.

    You can go to, the Pocatello TV station, and click on the sports section to see its coverage of that last shot. Great moment!

  2. Yes you can! You have to open up the America One player, and then go on the right hand corner... it says Live Video and VOD. Click on VOD, choose the date and Idaho State, and you will be able to go in and watch the full game.

    Try this link - - click on any of the games to open the player, and then go to VOD in the corner and it should work!

  3. I never knew that -- thanks!

  4. We are glad you are back Jon... We have been going through withdrawals without your articles over the past day and a half... But seriously we really do appreciate what you do... this blog is a daily staple in our lives.