Sunday, February 5, 2012

Big Sky Weekend Recap

With four more games on Saturday, a quick look at everything that went on in the Big Sky.

The biggest storyline in the Big Sky is that Weber State and Montana continue to be neck and neck, both looking to grab hold of the regular season conference title and the all-important home-court advantage in the conference tournament that comes along with it.

Nationally, the biggest story will continue to be Damian Lillard, as he followed up a 40 point effort on Thursday by scoring 35 points against Northern Colorado, as Weber State won 92-81. The Wildcats led throughout the game, leading by as many as 26 points in the second half. Lillard was against extremely efficient, shooting 12/18 from the field, including 5/9 from the charity stripe. He also had 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals. It was the seventh time this season that he is over 30 points in a game, and he is now at 25.5 PPG per game.

After the game, BJ Hill uttered the line that has so often been said of great players, "You're not going to stop him; you have to try the best you can to contain him."

Also in double figures were Scott Bamforth (again) with 18, Gelaun Wheelwright with an efficient 11, and Byron Fulton with 10. Northern Colorado also had five guys in double figures. With the win, WSU is now 10-1 in the Big Sky and clinched a spot in the conference tournament (not that there was any doubt), while Northern Colorado falls to 4-7, still a game out of conference tournament contention. With their schedule, the odds are suddenly looking long that they will participate in postseason play.


The other guys with one loss had a big game of their own, as Montana handled their intra-state rival, taking down Montana State 67-58. The Grizzlies built up a nine point halftime lead, but MSU cut it to three with 4:33 to play. After that, the Grizzlies closed strong, outscoring the Bobcats 11-5 the rest of the way.

Montana won despite Derek Selvig, Art Steward and Will Cherry (21 mins) getting in some foul trouble. The star was Kareem Jamar, who continues to grow into one of the best players in the conference and a possible first-teamer. He finished with 21 points (including 4 treys) and 3 assists, stepping up big-time when Cherry was out of the game. Selvig also had 15 points and 5 rebounds.

More than anything, Montana won by shutting down the outside shot of MSU. Their offense can rely heavily on hitting the three ball, but they were just 2/16 in this game. Jourdain Allou led the team with 15 points. The story of the game for the Bobcats was basically this:

Xavier Blount: 2/12 FG, 0/5 3pt, 4 points
Christian Moon: 3/10 FGm 2/7 3pt, 8 points
Shawn Reid: 2/10 FG, 0/5 3pt, 9 points

To beat good teams, they need two of those three guys to play well offensively, and it just didn't happen in this game. They are now 6-5, traveling to take on a suddenly hot Sacramento State team and Northern Colorado. With six conference wins it is difficult to see them missing the Big Sky tournament, but certainly not impossible.


Sacramento State got their third straight win, improving to 3-8 in the Big Sky after starting 0-8. They did it by going on the road and beating Eastern Washington. Their first two conference wins (against NAU and UNC) were nice, but this one is legitimately a very nice win. The Hornets got off to a big start, and led by 19 at the break.

They continued to lead by 18 midway through the second half, when Eastern Washington finally woke up. They went on an 11-0 run to cut the lead to seven with four minutes to play, but the Hornets hit free throw after free throw to secure the win. EWU cut the lead to three with 35 seconds left, the Hornets then went 9/10 from the stripe, culminating with freshman Dylan Garrity burying two with two seconds left for the final points of the day. Joe Eberhard led the team with 21 points, while John Dickson threw in 20. Cliff Colimon led the Eagles with 25 points, but they were only able to get 10 unproductive minutes from leading scorer Collin Chiverton.

The win was big in that the Hornets got a road win against a team they are chasing for that last tournament spot. They sit two behind Eastern Washington and Portland State.


The Vikings took care of business with a road win over Northern Arizona, beating the Lumberjacks by the score of 76-65, in a game that wasn't even that close. Charles Odum led the way with 20 points on just 11 shots, while the Viks had four other players in double figures.

NAU got good performances form Ephraim Ekanem (18 and 8) and Gaellan Bewernick (12 and 10), but not a lot of help from everyone else. The rest of the team shot just 15/39 from the field.

Portland State now moves to 5-6 in the Big Sky, tied with EWU for the fifth spot. Northern Arizona falls to 1-11 in the Big Sky. They are not yet mathematically eliminated, but I am afraid it is only a matter of time.

What were everyone's thoughts on what happened?

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1 comment:

  1. Saw that Montana defense in person at PSU. Not suprised they could shut down MSU's shooters, they are tough. Best of luck to all, but it should be WSU-Montana on espn in March.