BIG SKY TOURNAMENT: A rematch awaits when Montana, EWU meet in title game

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A rematch is on tap in the Big Sky men’s basketball tournament championship game.

Eastern Washington and Montana made sure of it with impressive victories Friday at CenturyLink Arena.

MONTANA 78, WEBER ST. 49: Ahmaad Rorie scored 28 points and the Grizzlies’ defense limited the Wildcats to 31 percent shooting en route to a second straight berth in the championship game.

Rorie knocked down his first seven shots to record 18 points in the opening period and lead top seed Montana (25-8) to a commanding 42-22 halftime lead after firing at a 57 percent clip.

Weber State (18-15) was unable to rally from a sizeable deficit as the Wildcats did in both regular season contests against the Griz. Montana stretched its lead to as many as 37 points with six minutes remaining.

“I’m proud of these guys. They’ve been through a lot of changes and some ups and downs over the course of the year so to find themselves back in the championship game is huge,” said Montana head coach Travis DeCuire.

Weber State’s All-Big Sky First Team selection Jerrick Harding was held to a season-low six points.

Brekkott Chapman led the No. 4 seed Wildcats with 16 points.

“It was our best defensive performance all year and probably in my time here (at Montana),” DeCuire said.

Sayeed Pridgett joined Rorie in shooting over 50 percent from the floor for 14 points while Bobby Moorehead added a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards.

E. WASHINGTON 77, S. UTAH 61: The Eagles (16-17) got out fast and never looked back in their semifinal victory over the Thunderbirds (16-16).

The only thing that slowed Eastern Washington down was a fire alarm that went off with 2:03 to go and the Eagles leading 72-54.

EWU takes on Montana tonight at 6. The Grizzlies denied the Eagles a trip to the NCAA Tournament last year.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Jesse Hunt and Kim Aiken extended the Eagles’ lead to 28-14 with 3:44 to go in the first half.

Moments later the lead grew to 32-14 before Eastern Washington took a 39-21 lead into halftime.

Peatling led the way in the opening 20 minutes, scoring 15 points.

EWU shot well from 3-point range in the first half, making 8 of 15 attempts, while Southern Utah shot 23 percent from the field.

The Thunderbirds weren’t about to fold after the first half. They opened on an 8-0 run to start the second half.

Southern Utah’s comeback continued, as the Thunderbirds trimmed an 18-point deficit to 52-46.

But the Eagles regained form, extending the lead to 60-50 with 6:43 to go.

EWU finished the game strong, building the lead back to 18 points.

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