CSJ Big Sky Men’s Hoops Preview Week Ending 2/9/2020: Eagles, Grizzlies Clash with Conference Lead at Stake

A number of factors come into play in determining the outcome of any athletic endeavor. Things like momentum, streaks and rivalry can all be as important as wins and losses.

Montana’s recent stretch of games have provided the Grizzlies with a wide array of emotions, as well as peaks and valleys. 

It doesn’t get easier as league leading Eastern Washington travels to Missoula to tangle with the Grizzlies with the top spot in the league standings going to the victor.

Montana dropped its second straight conference game on Jan. 30 as Portland State led from start to finish on the way to an 88-81 win at home over the Grizzlies.

The loss dropped the Grizzlies to 7-3 in Big Sky play at the time. Montana managed to regroup two days later to defeat bitter rival Montana State 78-64 in the 300th meeting between the two schools and will enter this week’s action with an 8-3 record.

Eastern Washington sits atop the Big Sky Conference standings after sweeping a pair of league games last week to improve to 7-2 in the conference. The Eagles defeated Northern Colorado 89-84 before knocking off Sacramento State 59-54. The Bears sit in third place in the BSC with a 6-3 record while Northern Arizona and Southern Utah are tied for fourth with 6-4 league record.

PSU’s Holland Woods helped PSU do what a nemesis does best by scoring a career-high 39 points for the Vikings. Woods was successful on 21 of 21 free throws in the game against Montana to establish a new Big Sky Conference record. Ten of Woods’ successful free throws came in the final 82 seconds of the game as the Vikings combined to go 11 of 12 from the foul line to hold the Grizzlies at bay after they had pulled to within five points with less than one minute remaining in the game. 

Montana, which trailed by 22 at one point, had made its final seven field goal attempts in the game and scored 17 points over the final 2:34, but was unable to overtake the homestanding Vikings.

Portland State, which connected on five of its first six shots in the game, shot 56 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes and held a 49-30 lead at halftime. The 49 points where the most allowed in the first half all season and the second time the Grizzlies have surrendered at least 40 points in the first half of a game and both have come against Portland State.

The Vikings scored 42 points in the first half against the Grizzlies on Jan. 13 in Missoula. Montana won that game 85-70 after leading 46-42 at halftime.

Woods was one of two PSU players to score in double figures in the most recent game against Montana, while teammate Sal Nuhu chipped in with 10 points of his own. Eight different players broke into the scoring column for the Vikings.

Montana, meanwhile, had four players finish in double figures in scoring. Kendal Manuel led the way with 19 points, including 17 in the second half, and five rebounds. Derrick Carter-Hollinger scored 17 points on six of seven shooting from the floor and grabbling five rebounds for the Grizzlies.

Sayeed Pridgett and Timmy Falls, who tallied a team-high eight assists, both chipped in with 14 points for Montana. Falls reached double figures for the third straight game.

Eddy Egun, who scored six points, led all rebounders with seven in the contest. Egun, a redshirt freshman, played the final 15 minutes of the game against the Vikings after playing just 16 minutes through the first nine conference games for the Grizzlies this season.

Big Sky Conference Marquee Game of the Week

Eastern Washington at Montana
When: Thursday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m.
Where: Dahlberg Arena (7,321)
Television: Pluto TV (Channel 537)

EASTERN WASHINGTON EAGLES: Eastern Washington is an offensive-minded squad in 2019-20 are comes into this week’s action with an 82.2 scoring average. The Eagles also play solid on the defensive end of the floor by allowing the opposition just 74.5 points per contest.

Three players are carrying the offensive load for the Eagles by combining for more than half of EWU’s points this season. Jacob Davison (6-4, RS, Jr., G) is the top scoring weapon for the Eagles. His is averaging 17.9 points per game on the year and is tied for fourth on the team in rebounding with 3.7 boards per game. He leads the squad in steals (37) and his 51 assists ranks him second on the team in that department.

Mason Peatling (6-8, Sr., F) is not far behind Davison in scoring with 15.9 points per game to his credit while ranking third on the team in rebounding (8.4 rpg) and assists (50). Kim Aiken (6-7, RS, So., G/F) enters the week with a 14.8 points per game scoring average and is second on the team in rebounding with 10.3 rebounds per game while also tallying 37 steals and 32 assists on the year.

MONTANA GRIZZLIES: Montana has just two players averaging more than 10 points per game this season. Sayeed Pridgett (6-5, Sr., G) leads the way with an average of 19.1 points per game through the first 22 games of the season. 

A versatile player, Pridgett is also tops on the team in rebounding with 7.2 boards per contest and leads the Grizzlies in assists (79) and steals (33) while playing just over 36 minutes per game. His 14 blocked shots tie him for second on the team in that category. Teammate Kendal Manuel (6-4, RS, Sr., G) is scoring at a 15.0 per game clip for the Grizzlies.

Big Sky Conference Men’s Basketball Standings

Teamvs. Big SkyOverallSagarin
Eastern Washington10-417-8139
Northern Colorado10-417-8126
Montana State8-614-11208
Northern Arizona8-714-10233
Southern Utah7-714-11211
Portland State6-812-14197
Sacramento State6-913-11231
Weber State6-910-16245
Idaho State3-126-18323

Check out our full Mid-Major Sagarin Ratings for this week here.

Last Week’s Results

Jan. 27

Eastern Washington 89, Northern Colorado 84
Northern Arizona 69, Sacramento State 54
Southern Utah 73, Idaho 45

Jan. 30

Northern Colorado 83, Idaho State 67
Portland State 88, Montana 81
Weber State 75, Southern Utah 65

Feb. 1 

Eastern Washington 59, Sacramento State 54
Montana 78, Montana State 64
Northern Arizona 77, Idaho 72
Northern Colorado 70, Weber State 52
Southern Utah 80, Idaho State 75

This Week’s Games

Feb. 3

Eastern Washington at Northern Arizona, 6:05 p.m. Pluto TV (Channel 539)
Idaho at Sacramento State, 7:05 p.m., Pluto TV

Feb. 6

Eastern Washington at Montana, 7 p.m., SWX Montana
Idaho at Montana State, 7 p.m. Pluto TV
Northern Arizona at Idaho State, 7 p.m.
Northern Colorado at Southern Utah, 7 p.m., Pluto TV (Channel 536)
Sacramento State at Weber State, 7 p.m., Pluto TV (Channel 535)

Feb. 8

Portland State at Southern Utah, 2 p.m., Pluto TV (Channel 536)
Montana State at Eastern Washington, 3:05 p.m., SWX Montana & Pluto TV (Channel 534)
Northern Arizona at Weber State, 7 p.m., Pluto TV (Channel 535)
Sacramento State at Idaho State, 7 p.m.
Montana at Idaho, 7:30 p.m., Pluto TV (Channel 542)