Montana no match for Wisconsin in 73-49 loss
The Montana Grizzlies were very familiar with Wisconsin’s
bruising style because one of their assistants, Freddie Owens,
played for the Badgers from 2001-04.
His inside information didn’t help them hang with the Badgers
for long, however.
The Grizzlies saw their school record 14-game winning streak
snapped with a 73-49 beatdown by the Badgers in their NCAA
tournament opener Thursday at the Pit.
Montana (25-7) shot just 38 percent overall and 29 percent in
the second half. Their leading scorer, Will Cherry, was held to 9
points on 3 of 14 shooting and had no assists.
The Grizzlies lost for the first time since Jan. 14.
”We said in the locker room, it’s been a while since we tasted
defeat,” Montana coach Wayne Tinkle said. ”It was a heck of a run
that these guys put together, and I’m awfully proud of that.
Getting to this position is great.”
The Grizzlies had no answer for All-America point guard Jordan
Taylor and his supporting cast. Taylor, who settled for lower
numbers across the board as he incorporated three new starting
forwards into the lineup this season, scored 17 points, dished out
six assists and pulled down eight rebounds.
Ryan Evans led Wisconsin with 18 points and eight boards, and
the Badgers (25-9) improved to 10-1 in NCAA tournament openers
under Bo Ryan, the winningest coach in the program’s history.
Art Steward’s 18 points led the Grizzles, who had its best
season in two decades. The team’s last loss was two months ago at
Weber State, the same squad it wiped out by 19 in the Big Sky title
The 13th-seeded Grizzlies only held two leads against the
bigger, badder Badgers – 2-0 and 5-2 on Derek Selvig’s 3-pointer,
which was quickly matched by a 3 from Josh Gasser, who scored 12
”Offensively they did a good job of swinging a ball and finding
the mismatches early and exploiting us,” Cherry said. ”They did a
good job of driving and getting to the line in the first half. In
the second half, they just were just relentless on the offensive
Evans averaged 10.9 points in the regular season and topped that
in the first half when his 14 points helped the Badgers to a 39-29
Wisconsin, making its 14th straight appearance in the NCAA
tournament, raced out to a 14-7 lead when Evans swished his first
four shots, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key.
”We pride ourselves on creating doubt in the minds of our
opponents, and I thought they really did a good job of that
tonight,” Tinkle said. ”Our guys battled back. We made a nice
little run there in the second half, and they always had an answer,
a lot of dagger plays there in the second half, so proud of my
group. It’s been a heck of a year.”
Mathias Ward sank two free throws and a 3-pointer and Cherry hit
another 3 to cut Wisconsin’s 16-point lead to 48-38, but the
Badgers called timeout and then outscored Montana 25-11 the rest of
the way, never letting the Grizzlies push the pace like they
”They weren’t turning the ball over,” Cherry said. ”We sped
them up at times, but I felt like somehow they always kicked it to
an open shooter who made a dagger three, and put a little damper in
Getting down big against a team as deliberate as Wisconsin
spelled the end for Montana.
”We just couldn’t get on a roll,” Selvig said. ”Usually we
like to create momentum in transition and just didn’t feel like we
could get out and run. Our offense ended some plays with fouls when
they ran some shot clocks down and got some shots, we fouled them.
So we didn’t do a good job there.”
Still, they tried to look on the bright side of making their
second trip to the NCAA tournament in three years.
”This year was a heck of a run,” Selvig said. ”I’m just
really thankful for the coaches and my teammates for making it so
special. It’s tough to go out this way, but those guys were just
ready to play and we just made mistakes when we couldn’t, and
that’s the difference.”
Cherry, a junior, had knelt and kissed the NCAA logo at the
tournament two years ago. This time, he was all business. He said
they’ll use this bitter defeat to motivate them for a return trip
”If we can keep working hard, keep working hard and never be
satisfied, we’ll be back here,” Cherry said. ”No doubt about
that, because we’re never satisfied. We’re hungry. We do things the
Grizzly way like Coach Tinkle is always preaching. The Grizzly way
is hard and smart together. If we can keep those things rolling
we’ll be back here without a doubt.
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