Huskies take bite out of Grizzlies

BOISE, ID - Despite their best efforts, these Grizzlies just couldn't get out of the woods. Washington scored the first 13 points of the game and never looked back, defeating Montana 88-77 at Taco Bell Arena in the first-round of the NCAA Men's Tournament Thursday. The Huskies threatened to run away with things, but were never able to put away a feisty Montana team bent on making sure Washington got their best shot.

A pro-Montana (18-13) crowd came to life a few times when the Grizzlies cut Washington's lead, but the Huskies were able to always answer every challenge, pushing their 16-point halftime lead to as much as 17 on a late Brandon Burmeister three-point shot, but two treys by Montana guard Matt Martin cut the lead in garbage time. The Grizzlies were able to cut a second-half deficit to single digits twice - the final time on a Kamarr Davis layin to bring Montana back to 72-63 with 6:11 left.

"I think I hit a few big shots and Tre (Simmons) hit some big shots," junior guard Brandon Roy said of the Huskies' ability to cut any extended runs short by Montana. "That's what we have to do throughout the tournament you know when the other team makes runs at us a lot of guys have to step up in order for us to go far in the tournament."

Roy led five Washington (28-5) players in double figures with 17. Senior guard Tre Simmons chipped in 15, Will Conroy had 12, Bobby Jones 11 and Jamaal Williams 10 points. Montana was led by senior forward Davis, who had 24 points. Matt Martin added 15, Virgil Matthews 11 and Kevin Criswell 10 for the Grizzlies. They outrebounded the Huskies 33-32

The Huskies couldn't hold its substantial early advantage, letting Montana creep back in the game after leading by as much as 19 points. "We tried to take advantage early and that's what we did," Simmons said. "But then we played it cool. We just switched it on and off."

"We came out with a lot of intensity," said Roy. "But we got cool down the stretch. Being the number-one team is hard because all game long you're thinking about it. We're still new to this system and we are just going to take the win and thy to get better."

"Give Montana credit today, they did not fold," Huskies' Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. "They continued to work hard. They got the ball down the stretch to their star player, Kamarr Davis and he ends up with 24 points. They did a very,very good job.

"We were only as good as our defense. When you're focused, we tell our guys that it will carry over to offense. That was the case in the beginning. But Montana made the adjustments and we didn't apply the kind of pressure we should have throughout the game and they took advantage of it."

"Good, bad or indifferent, I thought that our kids fought to the end," Montana Head Coach Larry Krystkowiak said. I don't thnk that there was anybody out there interested in moral victories and trying to make it tough."

A quick 9-0 burst forced Krystkowiak to call a timeout with only 1:48 gone to start the game. It didn't get much better, as the Dawgs took a 14-point lead at the first television intermission and a 17 point-cushion at the second break. But this half would really end up being a tale of two halves. The first half saw Washington impose their will, the second saw Montana scratch and claw back.

"I'd love to be able to rewind and go back in time and know what we know now and come out with a differnt first four minutes," Krystkowiak said.

A Kamarr Davis jam with 4:43 left brought the Griz to within single-digits for first time since the Huskies' initial 9-0 run. But a Mike Jensen bomb from outside the arc seemed to calm Washington down, and they outscored Montana 11-2 to finish the half.

"You always want to finish off the half the right way," Romar said of Jensen's shot. "You always want to go into halftime with momentum."


Statistics:
Points: Roy 17, Simmons 15, Conroy 12, Jones 11, Williams 10, Robinson 9, Smith 8, Jensen 3, Burmeister 3
Rebounds: Jones 8, Simmons 5, Robinson 4, Jensen 3, Roy 3, TEAM 3, Conroy 2, Williams 2, Smith 1, Potter 1
Assists: Robinson 5, Simmons 4, Roy 4, Conroy 3, Jensen 1, Smith 1, Williams 1
Steals: Jones 3, Williams 3, Jensen 1, Robinson 1, Roy 1
Blocks: Roy 1

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