Grizzlies men’s basketball ready to be tested in Santa Clara after confidence-building stretch | College Sports

LANCE HARTZLER Missoulian

MISSOULA — Going into Monday’s game against SAGU American Indian College, Lonnell Martin Jr. was a bit angry.

The freshman junior guard for the Montana men’s basketball team had missed 17 straight games on a 3-point range over a five-game streak, going from the second half of the State victory in Sacramento Dec. 2 in the first half of Monday’s game. .

Martin ended that drought with a pair of confident triples, setting the tone for an explosion of confidence on the visiting Warriors out of the NCCAA — the same league as Yellowstone Christian.

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The lopsided victory over the Warriors was the Grizzlies’ second consecutive triumph (8-4) over a team outside the NCAA, especially against an NCCAA team, as Montana wanted to fill the gap in the schedule that has been done when UNC Wilmington canceled games due to a flu outbreak.

Games against non-Division-I teams are normal, for the most part, for weak and middle majors like Montana. Of course, teams would prefer to schedule other mid-majors, which was a point of attention with Montana’s schedule this year with seven originally scheduled in the nonconference before Wilmington was forced to cancel.

But Grizzlies head coach Travis DeCuire has seen positives in games, even if the talent is skewed toward Montana in matchups.

“These are opportunities for, on the one hand, just working on the execution and gaining someone’s trust,” DeCuire said last Monday. “We had a few guys who weren’t shooting the ball well and the last two games we were lucky to bring some guys forward and hopefully that will happen.”

Martin started Monday with 10 points on 2-of-5 shooting from range and Kyle Owens hit double digits for the second straight game and only the fourth time this season with 15 and seven boards, a season high. Josh Vazquez also scored a season-high 19 of 5 of 10 from 3-point range.

Road test

Now, as DeCuire said, it’s about postponing it.

It’s not the level of change the Grizzlies had between games one and two when they moved from NAIA Dickinson State to Mississippi State (7-3), but Sunday is a good test on the road because the game out of conference is coming to an end. .

Montana, with three straight wins under his belt, will head south to Santa Clara, Calif., for a game against the host WCC Broncos (8-5). They have a pair of victories over the Power Five teams – Stanford and Texas Christian – on their CV.

More recently, the Broncos fell to Cal and Boise State by the same score of 72-60 in road losses and beat Florida A&M at home Friday night 80-66. At home, Santa Clara is 7-2.

Santa Clara is 93rd in the NCAA’s NET rankings, which is good for fifth among WCC schools. Montana is comparatively 242nd and the Broncos are only the second team in the NET top 100 so far for the Grizzlies.

Tipping is scheduled for 3:00 PM MT.

Lance Hartzler covers Griz men’s basketball and prep sports for Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter at @lance_hartz or email him at [email protected]

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