A strong first half from Montana was followed by cold shooting in the second as the Grizzlies fell to Pac-12 team Stanford 73-62 in the season opener for both teams.
Montana led for over 15 minutes in the opening period at Maples Pavilion in Stanford, but a 26-2 run from the Cardinal early in the second half helped bury the Grizzlies. It was a near carbon copy of a 26-4 run Stanford used to win the last time the two teams played in 2017, a game in which Montana led with under 10 minutes left.
Stanford now leads the all-time series with Montana 7-2.
“A lot of it is our offense is effecting our defense,” Montana head coach Travis DeCuire said to KGVO Radio. “We struggled to get good shots, we struggled to get the ball in the basket and the dam broke. Our mental toughness was a little bit in question in the second half.”
Sayeed Pridgett led Montana with 17 points, 10 rebounds and six assists on Wednesday night. Oscar da Silva was the Cardinal and game-high scorer with 21 points.
The first half was back-and-forth, with Montana having the lead for nearly 17 minutes in the period. Stanford never led by more than three points in the first half.
Sayeed Pridgett had the first Grizzly basket of the 2019-20 season with a jumper a little over 20 seconds into the game and Kendal Manuel quickly added on a triple. Freshman Derrick Carter-Hollinger was the first player off the bench for Montana, eventually finishing with an impressive 15 points and six rebounds in a 28 minute debut. Manuel added on seven points and a pair of 3-pointers, but just had a single point in the second half.
With sophomore Mack Anderson in foul trouble most of the games — he ended with zero points and three fouls in just 13 minutes — Carter-Hollinger was asked to play quite a few minutes.
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Fellow freshman Kyle Owens and point guard Josh Vazquez both drew the start, along with Anderson, Manuel and Pridgett. Owens got called for two early fouls that saw him spend most of the first half on the bench, pushing Carter-Hollinger into a few more minutes.
“It signs of what we’re capable of, we had foul trouble with Mack (Anderson) and Kyle (Owens) we knew that (Carter-Hollinger) would give us a spark off the bench, especially off the glass and his activity defensively,” DeCuire said. “…I think that we had the opportunity to pull away. I felt like the way we played and not having a lead at half was very difficult for such a young group.”
Montana led by as many as six points in the first half and Carter-Hollinger and Vazquez — who finished with 11 points and a pair of triples — went on a 10-2 run by themselves starting just after the under-eight minute media timeout. A free throw, a pair of jumpers from Carter-Hollinger and a layup from Vazquez got the spurt started, with the point guard added a triple as well.
Stanford answered with a 9-0 run, which gave them their first lead from the early goings of the game. It was keyed by a Spencer Jones triple and four free throws from Oscar da Silva. With the Cardinal leading by three, Carter-Hollinger swiped a ball from Daejon Davis and passed it up to Pridgett, who was fouled on a layup and converted the three-point play.
The half ended with Stanford holding on to a 30-28 lead as both teams shot in the mid-40s over the first 20 minutes of play.
Montana’s final lead came at the 17:07 mark of the second half, when Carter-Hollinger followed up a short jump shot with a free throw to make it 36-35 in favor of the Griz.
From there, it was all Stanford until just a few minutes left in the game. Montana finished on an 18-3 run, keyed by 3-point shots from Vazquez, Derrick-Hollinger and Eddy Egun.
The Grizzlies will open its home slate against MSU Northern on Sunday, Nov. 10 in Dahlberg Arena while the Cardinal host Cal State Fullerton on Friday.