13 Dec 2021 | 07:54 | Baseball
PORTLAND, Ore. – For the third consecutive series, Montana won the opening round before settling for a split. The Grizzlies scored just 56 points on Saturday afternoon, falling to Portland State, 61-56.
The Grizzlies led by as many as seven points in the first half, and took a 28-27 advantage into the locker room after shooting .550 from the floor. Portland State tied the game just 69 seconds into the second half, however, and took the lead on its next possession. The Vikings didn’t trail from that point forward.
After Montana was efficient from the floor in the first half, making 11 of 20 shot attempts, the Grizzlies struggled in the second period. A Kyle Owens jumper tied the score at 36-36 with 14:54 to play, but Montana then went the next 4:40 without a point, falling behind by as many as five points. The Grizzlies bounced back to make four consecutive shots, cutting the deficit to 43-42 with 9:24 to play, but then again went cold, missing six straight shot attempts and going more than 6 minutes without a field goal.
Still, despite the two extended draughts, Montana was within striking distance down the stretch. The Grizzlies had the chance to cut the deficit to a single possession with 34 seconds to play, but Montana’s layup was blocked and Portland State converted on the other end with two free throws. Playing the foul game, Montana got as close as 59-56, but wasn’t able to steal the inbounds pass, allowing Portland State to make two more free throws and ice the game.
After one of its best rebounding performances of the season on Thursday, when Montana totaled 41 boards and out-rebounded a top-20 rebounding team in the country, Montana grabbed a season-low 23 boards on Saturday.
One of the bright spots for Montana came from sophomore Derrick Carter-Hollinger. After winning Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year honors in 2020, Carter-Hollinger has been in and out of the lineup in 2021, battling injuries and missing five games. The sophomore showed up in a big way this weekend, however, scoring a team-high 14 points on Saturday – on 4-of-6 shooting – while leading the Grizzlies with four rebounds. On Thursday, he was Montana’s rebounding leader, as well, with a season-most eight.
All six of Montana’s Big Sky Conference losses have come by six points or fewer, with an average margin of 3.1 points.
Montana has now split its past four Big Sky series, losing the second game of the series each of the last three times.
During Big Sky play, Montana is 0-5 on Saturdays.
Montana’s 56 points scored were tied for the second-fewest of the season (50 at Georgia, 56 in a win over Northern Colorado).
Montana shot .477 from the floor, but was just .417 in the second half after connecting at a .550 clip in the opening 20 minutes (11-of-20).
The Grizzlies made six of their first nine shots, including five in a row early to build an 18-11 lead 9 minutes into the contest.
Montana led for 8 consecutive minutes in the first half, and lead 28-27 at the intermission.
After making 14 of its first 23 shot attempts (.609), Montana shot 4-of-14 (.286) over the next 14 minutes. During that period, Montana had two extended draughts, going scoreless for 4:40 (0-for-4 with two turnovers) before missing six straight shots during a stretch of 6:15.
Despite extended scoreless draughts, Montana had the ball down five with under 1 minute to play – with the opportunity to cut the score to 56-53 – and trailed by just three points, 59-56, with 4.9 seconds remaining, as the Grizzlies tried to force a steal on the inbounds pass.
Montana’s 23 rebounds were a season low, and the fewest since Feb. 27, 2020 at Northern Arizona (22).
The low rebounding mark comes one game after the Grizzlies had 41, out-rebounding the nation’s 18th-best rebounding team.
Montana’s top two rebounders on the season were limited to just three combined boards.
Sophomore Derrick Carter-Hollinger had his best performance of the season, scoring a team-high 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting, in addition to tying for the team lead with four rebounds. He played a season-high-tying 31 minutes.
It marked the first time this season, and the ninth time of his career, that Carter-Hollinger has been in double figures for scoring.
On the weekend, Carter-Hollinger averaged 10.0 points and 6.0 rebounds, including a season-high eight boards on Thursday.
Senior Michael Steadman had a nice day offensively, scoring 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting. He scored eight points in the first half, including Montana’s first four points.
It marked the first time since Dec. 12-18 that Steadman has recorded 10 or more points in back-to-back games. The senior scored 12 points during Thursday’s win.
One game after turning the ball over eight times, freshman Brandon Whitney had a bounce-back performance with five assists and just one turnover. He also scored six points.
Junior Cameron Parker scored nine points and led Montana with two steals. He played a game-high 35 minutes.
Sophomore Kyle Owens was held to a season-low two points and one rebound. The forward, who has scored in double figures in 14 of 17 games this season, took just two shot attempts in 20 minutes of action (1-of-2).
Montana forced Portland State into 15 turnovers. One game after giving the ball up a season-most 24 times, Montana cut that number down to 13 on Saturday.
While Portland State was able to turn seven offensive rebounds into 11 second-chance points, Montana didn’t have its first second-chance basket until the game’s final 2 minutes.
After holding a lead with 5 minutes to play in its first seven Big Sky games, Montana has trailed at that mark in each of the last three contests (1-2).
Steadman was reinserted into the starting lineup on Saturday, marking the fourth consecutive game that Montana has used a different starting five.