The Montana Grizzlies dug themselves into a deep hole and couldn’t get out, falling to Portland State 81-69 in a Big Sky Conference men's basketball game on Thursday at Viking Pavilion.
With the win, Portland State completed the regular-season sweep of Montana.
The Grizzlies (15-4 in league, 22-8 overall) are now tied with Northern Colorado (15-4, 21-9) for first place in the Big Sky Conference standings. UNC defeated Southern Utah 70-53 on Thursday.
The game was tied 23-23, but a 14-4 run sent the Vikings to intermission head 37-27. The Vikings came out of the break hot, going on a 13-3 run to lead 50-30 not even five minutes into the second half.
From there, Montana’s furious comeback began courtesy of junior Sayeed Pridgett. Pridgett finished as the game’s scoring leader with 28 points, 23 of which came in the second half. He finished shooting 12 for 17.
Pridgett scored 12 straight points down the stretch for UM, bringing the Grizzlies within seven at 62-55 with 4:57 to play, but that was as close as they got.
Turnovers killed the Grizzlies in the first half. Montana racked up 11 turnovers which Portland State turned into eight points. However, the Griz took just 20 shots in the first half.
Montana finished shooting 50.9 percent from the field but just 27.8 percent from deep. PSU converted 46.4 percent of its shots and only 31.8 percent of its attempts from deep. Sophomore Holland Woods finished with 20 points for the Vikings while senior Deante Strickland ended with 19 for PSU.
Montana still holds the tie-breaker over Northern Colorado as it stands. If the Grizzlies defeat Sacramento State in their final regular-season game, they will still head into next week’s conference tournament as the No. 1 seed.
Montana State fell to Sac State 70-67 on Thursday, so the Bobcats fell into a three-way tie for third place in the standings with Weber State and Eastern Washington.
Portland State sits at No. 6, still on the outside looking in for a first-round bye. The Vikings are one game behind Weber, MSU and Eastern Washington.
The Grizzlies were once again without redshirt senior Jamar Akoh who did not make the trip with the team, meaning he’ll miss Saturday’s contest too.