December16GAMER

University of Montana freshman guard Brandon Whitney shoots a basket during the game against the University of Washington on Dec. 16, 2020. Whitney made the jumper early in the second half, keeping UM on top. The Griz won 66-58, defeating a Power Five school for the first time since 2017.

For the first time since UM head coach Travis DeCuire was a senior in college in 1994, Montana has defeated the University of Washington. The Griz overcame the PAC-12 conference school 66-58 on Washington’s home court in Seattle, on Dec. 16. 

“I go into the locker room and I don’t really have a postgame speech,” DeCuire said in his postgame radio interview. 

The win was Montana’s first win over a Power Five school since 2017, when the Griz beat the University of Pittsburgh, an ACC school, in overtime. Montana shot over 30% from the three point range while Washinton shot just 16.7%.

Thanks to an early five point burst from Kyle Owens, UM took a 10-7 first half lead. Owens had a team high 13 points in the game. He has scored in double digits in every UM game so far. 

Thanks to a Michael Steadman jumper later in the first half, UM was able to pull ahead of 18-8. In Montana’s first two games against Power-Five teams it started off slow, unlike against Washington. 

Later in the second half, Washington began to really struggle from the free throw line, making only one of its first five attempts. Washington finished with 11 missed free throws on 19 attempts. 

Montana held a 33-21 halftime lead. 

UM freshman guard Brandon Whitney made a jumper early in the second half to keep UM on top, 39-27. 

“Before the game I was talking to the staff and I said, ‘For a freshman, we’ve asked a lot of Brandon Whitney,’” DeCuire said. 

Whitney was asked to guard Washington’s leading scorer Quade Green, a former McDonald's All-American. Green, who came in the game averaging 20 points a game, scored four. 

Whitney finished with 10 points and three rebounds. 

Cameron Parker made a basket while being fouled in the second half to help keep UM up 42-31. Parker had eight points off the bench for UM. 

“The bench was positive and had more confidence,” said DeCuire. 

Washington then began to narrow Montana’s lead. Center Riley Sorn made back-to-back dunks to make the score 44-43 in UM’s favor. Sorn finished with 10 points. 

To help UM succeed in its upset hopes, sophomore guard Josh Vazquez and Whitney made back-to-back three pointers with two minutes left in the game. 

“Whitney and Vazquez were ready and they stepped up,” said DeCuire. 

The three pointers put UM up 59-53. Vazquez had 12 points and five rebounds in the game.

When Owens drew a charging foul and Montana took possession with just over 30 seconds left in the game, the game was sealed. 

The Griz improved to 2-4 with the 66-58 win. Washington dropped to 1-5.

“I’ve got so many friends and family here,” DeCuire, a Washington native, said. “I wish there were some fans here, but maybe that was to our advantage.”

Montana’s next game will be against Dickinson State in Missoula on Dec. 18.