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A blog about sports in Montana, with an emphasis on Flathead Valley High Schools.
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Around the Big Sky: Griz Streak Hits 19
The Griz broke into the CollegeInsider.com’s Mid-Major’s Top 25 for the first time this season
A recap of recent men's basketball news in the Big Sky Conference from Assistant Commissioner Jon Kasper:

Montana picked up road wins over North Dakota and Northern Colorado last week. The Grizzlies have now won 17 straight regular-season conference games, and 19 in a row over Big Sky teams dating back to a loss to Weber State on Jan. 14, 2012.

The all-time record for consecutive conference regular-season wins is 24 set by Weber State from 1967-70. Montana has won 21 in a row at home against Sky teams dating back to the 2009-10 season. UM plays at home against Southern Utah and Montana State this week. Montana State is the last Sky team to beat UM in Dahlberg Arena.

The Griz broke into the CollegeInsider.com’s Mid-Major’s Top 25 for the first time this season. The team received 48 points in the poll and are ranked 25th. Weber State (5-0 in league, 10-3 overall) also broke into the top 25. The Wildcats are ranked 24th and received 60 points.

Creighton remained in first place, followed by second-place Gonzaga, with of those both teams sporting 16-1 records. The top five is rounded out by Bucknell (14-3), Utah State (14-1) and Wichita State (15-2).

The Grizzlies were ranked 14th in the final Mid-Major poll last season. Montana went 25-7 overall last year and won the Big Sky title by winning a school record 15 games (going 15-1 in league play).

Moving on Up: Montana coach Wayne Tinkle won two more conference games last week, to hike his career total to 73. Tinkle now ranks 10th on the Big Sky’s all-time list, and needs just one more to tie Mike Montgomery for most conference wins coaching the Griz. Weber State coach Randy Rahe earned his 79th conference win last Thursday, beating Southern Utah. Rahe is now tied for sixth on the all-time list with former Weber State/Idaho coach Joe Cravens. Former Weber State coach Ron Abegglen is fifth with 86 league wins.

Saldivar Up To 11th: Northern Arizona senior Stallon Saldivar dished out eight assists in two games last week to up his career total to 431. Saldivar is now tied for 11th on the Big Sky’s al-time assists list with former Montana Grizzly and current Harlem Globetrotter Shane “Scooter” Christensen. Saldivar needs four more assists to move into a tie for 9th place with Harry Payne (NAU) and Travis DeCuire (UM).

Vikings Win Two At Home: Portland State moved into a four-way tie for third place in the league with two home victories last weekend. PSU scored a season-high 87 points and made a season best 12 3-pointers in an 87-69 win over Sacramento State on Thursday. The Vikings topped Northern Arizona 79-74 on Saturday. Senior guard Lateef McMullan had 14 points, nine assists and no turnovers in the win over Sacramento State. He had 13 points, seven assists and three steals against Northern Arizona. PSU made 20-of-31 3-pointers in the two games. Michael Harthun was 7-of-9 from 3-point range in the two games. Renado Parker had 20 points and 11 rebounds against NAU, his first double-double of the season.

Evans Wins Return to SUU: The homecoming for Idaho State coach Bill Evans proved to be memorable on Saturday night as his Bengals edged Southern Utah 54-53 at the Centrum. Evans is Southern Utah’s all-time winningest coach. He led the Thunderbirds from 1992-2007. Chris Hansen hit a free throw with 1:37 to play, which proved to be the game-winning score. Tomas Sanchez netted a career-high 18 points and dished out five assists. Idaho State’s defense held SUU to .321 percent shooting from the floor. The win was Idaho State’s first road victory of the season, snapping an eight-game road losing streak. Idaho State has won back-to-back games for the first time since last January. The Bengals try to make it three straight at home against Weber State on Monday.

NCAA Leaders: Weber State ranks in the top 20 in the nation in six statistical categories, and is in the top 10 in four of them. The Wildcats are seventh in the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage and 3-point field-goal percentage defense. WSU is eighth in scoring margin and field-goal percentage, 15th in scoring offense and 18th in field-goal percentage defense. Montana is fifth in the nation in free-throw percentage and 10th in 3-point field-goal percentage. Eastern Washington is seventh in 3-point field goals per game. Weber State guard Jordan Richardson is sixth in the nation in assist/turnover ratio at 3.67.

Barden Heating Up: Northern Colorado junior forward Derrick Barden recorded back-to-back double-doubles last week. Barden scored 14 points with 11 rebounds in a loss to Montana State, and netted 21 with a career-high 15 boards on Saturday against Montana. In six conference games, Barden is averaging 14.8 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.

Young Boarders: Eastern Washington’s Venky Jois and Weber State’s Joel Bolomboy both rank in the top 10 in rebounding in the nation among freshmen. Jois is averaging 9.3 rebounds per game, ranking sixth among freshmen. Vois leads the Big Sky with seven double-doubles. He had 14 points and 14 rebounds in a win over Northern Arizona last Thursday. Bolomboy, who pulled down a career-high 17 rebounds in a win over Southern Utah last week, ranks seventh among freshmen with an average of 9.1 rebounds per game. Jois ranks 38th overall in the nation, while Bolomboy is 42nd. Shawn Long of Louisiana-Lafayette leads all freshmen with an average of 9.8 rebounds per game.

Tip-Ins: Weber State’s Scott Bamforth enters Monday’s game with 999 career points ... SUU’s Jackson Stevenett enters the week with 965 career points. He needs 112 to move into a tie for 10th place on the scoring list and 46 rebounds to move into a tie for 10th on the school’s all-time list ... Jamal Webb (23), Aaron Anderson (20) and Troy Huff (20) all scored at least 20 points in North Dakota’s win over Montana State ... EWU’s Jeffrey Forbes enters the week with 949 career points ... EWU’s Collin Chiverton scored a season-high 22 points in a win over NAU ... NAU true freshman DeWayne Russell has scored in double figures in 15 of his 16 games this season ... Weber State and Montana both returned to the CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 this week. Weber State is 24th and Montana is 25th. Creighton is first, followed by Gonzaga. Weber State received 60 points. Montana earned 48.
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