MISSOULA — Three 3-point shots keyed a critical Northern Colorado run in the second half and the Bears downed Montana 74-66 on Saturday night in Greeley, Colorado.
Jared Samuelson tied the game at 45 for the Grizzlies with 11:32 left in the second half, but Jonah Radebaugh, Trent Harris and Bodie Hume all hit from beyond the arc to give Northern Colorado (9-5, 2-1 Big Sky Conference) the lead for good behind its 13-2 run.
“Top to bottom, they came to battle, we talked about this, mental and physical toughness,” Montana coach Travis DeCuire said to KGVO radio. “Every time you come in this gym you have to be prepared to go to war and I just don’t think we did a good enough job of that as a group.”
The Grizzlies, who trailed by one at halftime, took the lead to start the second half on a Kendal Manuel layup. But Northern Colorado’s Matt Johnson immediately hit a triple on the other end. Montana (7-8, 3-1 BSC) tied the game three times in the second half but the Bears were able to respond each time.
Northern Colorado lived up to its reputation as one of the best perimeter shooting teams in the nation, hitting 10 of 27 from behind the arc and a sizzling 6 of 14 in the second half. Hume got things going early for the Bears, scoring 12 points in the first five minutes of the game.
He hit a pair of triples and was fouled twice on 3-point attempts, hitting all six free throws. It helped contribute to a 16-3 opening run for Northern Colorado that became a hill just a little too big for Montana to climb.
Four Northern Colorado players were in double figures, led by Hume’s 22 on 13 shots. Jonah Radebaugh had 18 points, seven assists and four rebounds for the Bears, while Sam Masten (12) and Harris (11) rounded out the Northern Colorado double-digit scorers.
“They were tough shots, but the reality when you’re guarding Brodie Hume is that he’s got length, you can’t get there late, you have to be there when he catches it, then he won’t shoot. You can’t close out on him,” DeCuire said. “We lost him too much.”
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Kendal Manuel had a career high 30 points for Montana, also adding on six rebounds and three steals. He made 13 of 16 shots and hit all three of his 3-point attempts as he simply could not be stopped. Many of his scores were tough jumpers and layups, shots that had not been going down for the senior in the Grizzlies last few games.
“The hoop got big, he made his first shot, I think sometimes shooters when they see it go through the basket they can get rhythm,” DeCuire said. “You know he worked hard to get those shots and made some tough ones too. I thought he attacked the rim and we got him in good space. I thought we probably should have gotten him more shots tonight.”
Sayeed Pridgett had 15 points but played just eight minutes of the first half for UM due to foul trouble. He played just 28 minutes on the night, the fewest he’s played in a game this season.
DJ Carter-Hollinger added on 10 points and five rebounds over 22 minutes, scoring in double figures for the fourth time in his young career.
Montana shot 28 of 62 on the night and 6 of 19 from the 3-point line. Northern Colorado shot 18 of 22 from the free throw line, though late Grizzly fouls inflated that total.
A third road game in a row awaits Montana on Thursday as the Grizzlies head to Cheney for a matchup with Eastern Washington.
“If you would have told me I’d be 3-1 out of this (four game stretch), I’d take it,” DeCuire said. “I know everyone’s gonna beat each other in this league, no one’s gonna go undefeated, obviously. I’d like to have performed a little better given the circumstances … now we’re right back in the bunch and we’ve got to grind it out some more.”