Montana and Texas Southern came into their game on Nov. 25 with similar resumes. Both teams played in postseason tournaments in 2019, and both teams had a record of 1-4. But Montana was able to use its home-court advantage to outlast Texas Southern, 74-62.
“Its great,” said senior forward Sayeed Pridgett about the Griz’s win. “We needed this win.”
The game started out in a back-and-forth battle with Texas Southern, who took an early 10-6 lead over the Griz. Pridgett was able to convert an and-one in order to put UM within a point of Texas Southern. Pridgett finished with a team-high 19 points in the game and added seven rebounds and four assists.
Montana was able to go on a 6-0 run later in the first half, which included Pridgett finding junior guard Timmy Falls on a smooth backdoor pass for a layup. Falls was able to add 11 points for UM along with three assists.
UM was able to hold its lead over Texas Southern at halftime, 33-29.
Montana raced ahead in the second half, making 61.9% of its shots, as opposed to its first half-field goal percentage of 45.5%. Montana’s hot shooting included three 3-pointers in the second half. The team didn’t make any 3-pointers in the first half.
Two of UM’s 3-pointers came from senior guard Kendal Manuel and freshman guard Josh Vazquez to help the team open up a 47-40 lead. Manuel finished with 15 points and six rebounds in the game, while Vazquez added 10 points.
Dahlberg Arena erupted in cheers when Falls found Pridgett for an alley-oop that would put UM in the driver’s seat with a 60-46 lead.
“Before the play I was like, I don’t want to get up for this because I know Timmy Falls is going to throw that pass,” said Pridgett about the alley-oop. “It was just great when I caught it and dunked it.”
Texas Southern began pressing UM and was able to narrow the deficit to 65-53 with four minutes left in the game. Texas Southern was led in scoring by forward Yahuza Rasas, who scored 13 points for his team.
A foul was called on UM senior forward Jared Samuelson, which led to a chorus of boos and jeers from the Montana crowd. Montana head coach Travis DeCuire engaged in a yelling match with a referee.
Texas Southern reduced Montana’s lead to 68-58, after both teams made free throws.
Sayeed Pridgett responded to the controversial call by scoring and drawing a foul from Texas Southern to help Montana pull ahead 70-58 with two minutes remaining in the game.
Montana held off Texas Southern for the rest of the game, winning 74-62.
Falls, Pridgett, Vazquez and Manuel were the four Montana players who scored in double digits. Samuelson scored his first points of the season for UM in the game and finished with 3 points total.
“It was good to see. I liked the way he defended and rebounded the ball,” said DeCuire about Samuelsson’s performance.
The win improved Montana’s record to 2-4 overall, while Texas Sothern’s record dropped to 1-5.
UM’s next game will be against Coppin State at home on Nov. 29.