The Montana Grizzlies mowed down a third rival in a row and continued sitting atop the Big Sky Conference standings as the second half of the league schedule ramps up.
And for the third straight game, the Griz allowed the opposing team’s star to score at will while putting a priority at eliminating everyone else.
A week ago, Montana State star senior guard Harald Frey hit seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 37 points. But the Griz posted a 78-64 victory over the Bobcats in Missoula, the 18th win for UM over MSU in the last 19 rivalry matchups.
On Thursday, Montana completed the season sweep of second-place Eastern Washington despite a 34-point outing from EWU junior swingman Jacob Davison. The Griz used timely defensive sequences and a balanced scoring attack on the way to a 92-82 victory.
And Saturday night in Moscow, the Idaho star senior Trevon Allen poured in 25 of his game-high 36 points after halftime in a second 20 minutes that Montana otherwise dominated.
The Grizzlies eliminated Idaho sharpshooter Gabe Quinnett after halftime and Mack Anderson put together an unlikely second-half outburst as UM turned a one-point halftime deficit into an 82-71 victory over the rival Vandals on Saturday night.
The win moves Montana to 10-3 in Big Sky Conference play, 14-10 overall. The Griz are a game clear of EWU in the win column and two games ahead of Northern Colorado in the league standings.
Idaho falls to 2-10 in league play and 6-17 overall.
Quinnett drilled his fourth 3-poitner in a row with 1:07 left in the first half, giving Idaho a 34-31 lead and forcing Montana head coach Travis DeCuire to call a timeout. As Quinnett came to the Idaho bench, his teammates playfully pushed him around and danced like an underdog team relishing a chance to upset the first-place Grizzlies.
UM senior Kendal Manuel hit his only bucket of the first half on a night he finished with just four points to help the visitors close the first half down 34-33.
Out of the locker room, the teams went back and forth for the first five minutes. Then Anderson, a 6-foot-9 sophomore from Bozeman, scored 11 straight points to help Montana take control.
Allen never quit coming, hitting shots from all over the court. He nailed 10 of his 17 field goal attempts, including four of his six shots from beyond the 3-point arc. He also worked his way to the free throw line for 14 attempts, hitting 12. The outburst was a career-high for Allen and the first 30-point game of his career.
The rest of the Vandals managed just 12 points. The Griz denied Quinnett the ball furiously, holding him scoreless and allowing him to shoot just one more shot.
The Vandals converted 13-of-24 shots after halftime but it wasn’t enough to hang with a Montana squad that got the rim at will, including Anderson, who scored eight of his 11 points during the outburst on dunks or layups.
Anderson finished with a career-high 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Manuel shoot off a 2-of-7 shooting start to score 14 points in 36 minutes. Senior Sayeed Pridgett hit eight of his 12 shots from the floor on the way to 19 points to go with a game-high nine rebounds. And freshman guard Josh Vazquez continued his hot shooting over the last five games, drilling 3-of-5 from beyond the arc on the way to 11 points.
Vazquez had hit 11 of his last 15 shots from beyond the arc.
The Griz host Weber State and Idaho State next weekend, beginning with WSU on Thursday. The Wildcats handed UM its last loss, an 87-85 Weber win in overtime in Ogden two weeks ago.