MISSOULA — The Montana men's and women's basketball teams nabbed Big Sky Conference victories on Thursday evening as both teams defeated Eastern Washington.
The women won in Missoula, 68-50, while the Griz men won on the road in Cheney, Washington, 90-78.
The UM women (10-4, 3-2 Big Sky Conference) jumped out to a 22-4 lead by the end of the first quarter on the Eagles (2-9, 0-2). The first five baskets UM converted were 3-pointers, and Sophia Stiles steal and layup before the buzzer padded the lead heading into the second quarter.
The Lady Griz built their halftime lead to 33-12 and held EWU to just 4 for 28 shooting in the first half.
The Lady Griz were on cruise control from there as they snapped their recent two-game losing skid. Carmen Gfeller led Montana with 15 points and Sammy Fatkin added 12. Kylie Frohlich led UM in rebounding with nine boards as well as five points off the bench while Abby Anderson, Katerina Tsineke and Nyah Morris-Nelson all added eight points each.
The Lady Griz finished shooting 35.7% from the field and 9 for 19 from deep.
After losing to EWU three times last season, the Griz men (11-5, 4-1) bounced back against their rivals on Thursday and jumped to a 9-0 lead on the Eagles (8-7, 2-2) in the first half but found themselves in a back-and-forth contest by the end of the period. The Grizzlies went into halftime up 36-34 after Josh Vazquez converted a 3-point attempt in the final seconds.
Montana opened the second half going 7 for 7 from the field as the Grizzlies built a 53-38 lead four minutes into the half on the heels of a 17-4 run. UM would hold on from there down the stretch in a game where 56 total fouls were called on both teams and the Grizzlies were able to ice the game down the stretch thanks to free throws. Montana lost Kyle Owens, Mack Anderson and Derrick Carter-Hollinger to fouling out in the game as six total players fouled out.
Robby Beasley III and Brandon Whitney each scored 19 points for Montana while Josh Bannan finished with another double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Beasley also hauled in nine rebounds and Carter-Hollinger added 12 points. The Grizzlies finished shooting 49.1% from the field, went 8 for 25 from deep and converted 26 of their 30 free throw attempts.
Eastern Washington completed 42.1% of its shots and went 3 for 18 from 3-point range and 27 for 34 from the line.
Montana's men will next play at Montana State on Sunday in Bozeman at 5 p.m. The women's game between the Lady Griz and Bobcats has been postponed due to COVID-19 protocols within MSU's program. Their next scheduled game is on the road at Southern Utah on Jan. 13.