Feb 14, 2014 1:29 PM by Derek Buerkle - KPAX Sports
MISSOULA - The Griz and Lady Griz will both be looking for some redemption while entering a huge week of Big Sky Conference play.
The Grizzlies remember their first meeting with Northern Colorado - but they'd like to forget it. The Bears out-rebounded Montana 23-4 in the second half on their way to an 11 point win.
The boards are still a work in progress, but UM has found a work-around. The team ranked second to last in rebounding sits in second place in the standings, because they lead the league by a large margin in the fewest turnovers per game.
"It's instrumental. Because if you're not dominating the glass, or getting a bunch of offensive putbacks, it sure puts a premium on taking care of the ball," coach Wayne Tinkle observed.
The Griz have put themselves near the top of a very crowded Big Sky, but this week could either add to their climb, or dig a hole.
"I think that UNC and North Dakota are going to be the biggest games of the year right now. Because if we win both of these, we move to second. But if we come out and lose both of these, we started from the bottom, we're going to be right back at the bottom," guard Keron DeShields said.
Meanwhile, the Lady Griz also hold second place in the conference - and will host #1 North Dakota on Saturday. But that upcoming showdown didon't make Thursday's tip with eighth place Northern Colorado any less important.
"Somebody's got to beat North Dakota. They've got a two game lead. They need to get some losses. We've probably got to do it. Doesn't mean, if you lose to Northern Colorado, beat them, and you still only gain one. That's what I mean by every game is so important," coach Robin Selvig said.
Montana has won all six home games in Big Sky play. But they lost to UNC and UND on a tough January road trip. They will need to get physical to win payback.
"They're just tough. Like, they post up hard all the time. They are always playing every single possession. It gets a lot harder when they trap you and it feels like you get fouled, but you don't. And I mean, I think it's just stay composed and be strong with the ball," guard Kellie Cole said.