MISSOULA, Mont. – The Whitworth Pirates can take solace in the fact that they will not play a more talented basketball team this season after the Bucs were defeated 90-58 by the University of Montana in an exhibition game on Friday night at Dahlberg Arena.
Montana harassed Whitworth into 20 turnovers and hit 11 three-pointers in the win. The Grizzlies, defending champions of the NCAA Division I Big Sky Conference and near unanimous favorites to repeat in 2018, outscored the Pirates 49-28 in the second half after a competitive first period.
Whitworth struggled from the three-point line (3-20, 15%) and the free throw line (13-24, 54%). Meanwhile Montana went 11-25 (44%) from beyond the arc and 21-28 (75%) at the free throw line.
After quickly falling behind 14-5, the Pirates got back within 18-14 on a jumper in the key by Sam Lees. Montana stretched the lead back to 29-18 before Whitworth pulled to within 33-28 after a pair of free throws from Jared Christy.
The Grizzlies closed the first half on a 12-2 run and opened the second period with a 22-4 burst to break the game open. Sayeed Pridget's dunk gave Montana a 63-34 lead six and a half minutes into the second half.
Ben College led the Pirates with 12 points. Lees scored eight and Garrett Paxton came off of the bench for seven points. Christy led Whitworth with ten rebounds. The Bucs shot 35% (21-60) from the field.
Pridgett led Montana with 17 points and seven rebounds. Ahmaad Rorie, the preseason Big Sky Player of the Year had 14, as did Bobby Morehead. Five Grizzlies reached double figures.
Whitworth will officially open the season on November 16th against St. Olaf (Minn.).