Senior Fabijan Krslovic and junior Bobby Moorehead have been the Montana Grizzlies’ unsung heroes throughout the season.
On Thursday, they came through with their best offensive performances of the year to help the Griz beat Northern Colorado, 88-79, in Greeley, Colorado. Montana improved to 10-0 in Big Sky Conference play and maintained its 2.5-game lead over Weber State.
Krslovic paced the Griz with a season-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting, three points off his career high of 24, and added eight rebounds. Moorehead was right behind with a season-high 17 points, shooting 4 of 5 on 3-pointers and grabbing nine rebounds.
It was the first time this season a player other than Ahmaad Rorie, Mike Oguine or Jamar Akoh led the Griz in scoring.
Krslovic and Moorehead scored 15 points apiece during the second half, which Montana opened with a 17-4 run to take the lead for good. The teams were tied, 37-37, at intermission after Montana blew a 15-point first-half lead.
"Got to battle, got to fight," Griz head coach Travis DeCuire told KGVO Radio after the game. "We knew that this was going to be one of those games where someone that probably hadn't been our leading scorer was going to have to step up offensively for us (given) the way they defend. Fab and Bob were big time for us."
The Griz played the majority of the second half without Oguine. He went down to the floor with 16:23 remaining in the game, limped off holding his right knee and didn’t return the rest of the game. DeCuire said after the game it was a leg injury and added Oguine could've returned if needed.
Northern Colorado guard Andre Spight scored a game-high 32 points. He was 5 of 10 on 3-pointers to keep the Bears in the contest down the stretch.
The Griz limited Northern Colorado to 8 of 26 on 3-pointers. It was an improved performance from the 14-of-26 shooting the Bears displayed on Jan. 6 in Missoula.
“I thought we did an incredible job,” DeCuire said. “They made 8 of 26, (which) is about as good as you’re going to do, especially since two of those were contested step-backs.”
Leading 14-10, the Griz went on an 11-0 run that included a Moorehead 3-pointer in transition and a Krslovic layup to put Montana up 25-10. The run ended when Jordan Davis made a layup to score the Bears’ first points in 4:51 and their first field goal in 8:17.
With Montana up 31-19 and Krslovic and Jamar Akoh on the bench in foul trouble, the Bears picked up the pace and got baskets quick in the shot clock. They went on a 14-2 run to tie the game, 33-33, including 10 consecutive points by Spight.
The Griz opened the second half on a 17-4 run to go up 54-41. During the run, Moorehead scored five points and Krslovic had eight points.
"We knew they weren’t going to leave the guards; they were going to let the posts play one on one,” DeCuire said. "We gave (Krslovic) a heads up before the game earlier today — we're going to go to him tonight, so be ready to perform. I thought he was ready to. That jump hook was looking sweet tonight."
The Bears went to a 2-3 zone to force turnovers, which led to a 6-0 run to cut Montana’s lead to 66-59. Moorehead ended that spurt with a 3-pointer.
In the closing minutes, Spight hit a 3-pointer to cut Montana’s lead to 82-76, and Rorie answered with a 3-pointer of his own. Spight made another 3-pointer, but that basket would be the final points the Bears scored.
The teams combined for 50 fouls and 60 free throws.