Saturday , Mar , 18 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Upset-minded Grizzlies take on Eagles in second round

=== Upset-minded Grizzlies take on Eagles in second round ===

(Sports Network) – Into the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first
time in more than three decades, the Montana Grizzlies pulled off one of the
biggest upsets of the first round on Thursday and are now being rewarded
with a date against Boston College today at the Huntsman Center in Salt
Lake City.

Checking in as the 12th-seed in the Minneapolis Region, Montana was expected
to score a lot of points against fifth-seeded Nevada, the Western Athletic
Conference champion, but to beat the Wolf Pack 87-79 was a little more than a
surprise. The victory was the first for the Grizzlies in the tournament since
they defeated Utah State by a score of 69-63 in a Western Division game in
Pullman, Washington in the 1975 edition of the event. In this the 68th year of
the tourney, Montana is now 2-8 all-time.

As for the fourth-seeded Eagles, who entered the tournament ranked seventh in
the nation, they felt their placement in the brackets was a bit of an
insult, but they quickly found out that beating 13th-seeded Pacific was
no easy task. In fact, Boston College had to go to two overtime sessions to
get past the Tigers by a score of 88-76.

As far as the all-time series between these two teams is concerned,
Montana is actually 2-0 versus the Eagles entering this matchup. The
winner of this meeting heads off to do battle with the winner of the
Villanova/Arizona matchup next week.

By holding the Wolf Pack scoreless for more than two minutes to begin the game
on Thursday, Montana sent a message that should have been loud and clear to
the rest of the tournament field, don’t look down on the Big Sky Conference.
Never trailing as they put together a tough defensive stand against the top
team from the WAC, the Grizzlies led by as many as 16 points in the second
half. Montana shot an impressive 58.6 percent from the field in the first half
before dropping down to 44.4 percent after the break. However, the squad made
up for that difference by connecting on 19-of-23 at the charity stripe in the
second frame and 23-of-27 for the game, compared to a mere 8-of-10 for the
Pack at the line the entire game. Montana was exposed by Marcelus Kemp (32
points) and Nick Fazekas (24 points, 12 rebounds), but other than that the
Pack was rather silent. Aside from Matt Dlouhy who came up scoreless in 30
minutes of play, every starter for the Grizzlies hit for double digits,
beginning with Andrew Strait, who posted 22 points, seven assists and five
rebounds. Virgil Matthews checked in with 20 points and five boards, while
Kevin Criswell and Jordan Hasquet accounted for 18 and 16 points,

The Eagles needed a lot more than just a commitment to bald heads to get them
out of the mouths of the Tigers on Thursday, taking an extra 10 minutes of
play to finally gain enough separation for the victory. Pacific shot 4-of-9
beyond the arc in the first half, compared to just 1-of-8 for Boston College,
which is why the Eagles were lucky enough to be tied at the break at 34-34. In
the second half BC continued to struggle out on the perimeter (2-of-10), but
holding Pacific to just nine total field goals in the frame was enough to
force the first overtime, even though at one point in the period the Eagles
were ahead by as many as 13 points. The Tigers ran out to an early six-point
lead in the first bonus session, but shooting just 4-of-15 from the floor and
failing to make it to the free-throw line a single time in both of the extra
periods cost the fan favorites an upset. Craig Smith played a draining 47
minutes to come up with his 25 points and 13 rebounds, leading the Eagles in
both categories. Jared Dudley added 23 points, Louis Hinnant 14 and nine
assists, while Tyrese Rice chipped in 11 points off the bench even though he
made only 1-of-7 shots from the floor.