The #2 Montana Men's basketball team defeated #2 Eastern Washington in a physical 92-82 win despite five technical fouls combined from both teams and two Montana cheerleaders ejected from the game.

Sayeed Pridgett led the team in scoring and rebounding with 24 points and eight rebounds. For Eastern Washington, Guard Jacob Davison had 34 points on 13 of 22 shooting. This was the fourth consecutive win for the Men's team against Eastern Washington, which goes back to the 2018-2019 season.

The Griz started the game hot by getting a 7-0 lead early after a few baskets from Guards Sayeed Pridgett and Timmy Falls. The team was able to hold the Eagles without a point until 16:55 left in the half. When Eastern Washington started taking shots and getting to the free-throw line, Montana guard Josh Vazquez expanded the lead 21-10 with a 3 pointer with 11:54 remaining.

Eastern Washington found its way back into the game with free-throws finishing layups. By the end of the first half, the Eagles led the Griz 45-44. 

“Going down the stretch of the first half, we got a lead we are trying to hold onto and then it gets blown, but our bench keeps getting better and keeps getting stronger. They made plays, defended, were in the right place,” said head coach Travis Decuire.

Eagles players Jacob Davison and Mason Peatling had 39 points combined at the end of the first half. Montana received a technical foul with 12 seconds left in the half when Griz forward Kyle Owens slapped the backboard after dunking the basketball. 

“No question our guys were a little upset or edgy coming out of it, sometimes things like that will happen and when you are well disciplined, it can create better focus,” says coach Decuire when asked about the feeling in the locker room after the technical foul.

Senior Kendal Manuel was able to start a large run again for the Griz, he did this by making shots and completing a rare 4 point play by making a three-pointer while getting fouled. This jumped Montana up to another 11 point lead. Manuel finished the game with 18 points.

Eagles guard Jacob Davison kept the Eagles in the game by hitting two deep three-pointers in a row. He helped the team build momentum and went onto cut the lead to 2 for Montana with 30 seconds left.

After a fast break, Eagles forward Kim Aiken Jr. was shoved from the student section, which led to two Montana cheerleaders being ejected from the game. Aiken received a technical foul later in the quarter as well for getting into an argument with another Griz player during play.

“It’s an emotional game, we wanted to win this game, they wanted to win it. One of my players said he fell into the crowd and a cheerleader pushed him,” Eastern head coach, Shantay Legans said. “You just have to tell the guys to play smart and not end a good basketball game in a bad sense.” 

Montana made eight free throws in a row at the end of the game to seal the victory in front of the 3,879 fans in the Adams Center.

“It helps a lot, it instills more confidence in us and we know the energy is there, it makes us play a lot harder,” The crowd was a very important factor tonight to guard, Sayeed Pridgett said.

The Griz are now ranked #1 in the Big Sky Conference and will travel to play the University of  Idaho Saturday night at 7:30 PM. The Vandals are currently the last place team in the conference.