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Big Sky roundup, week 1

January 5, 2012 Conference Notes No Comments

Opening weekend in the Big Sky

Eastern Washington
Record: 7-7, 1-1
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Won by 16, lost by 8; 76.5 ppg for, 72.5 against; plus-4 scoring margin; 52-112 FG; 20-53 3pt; 29-43 FT.
Summary: One night, the lead stuck. The other, it didn’t. The Eagles made an early 25-10 lead against Montana State and rode it to an 82-66 victory. How? EWU was outrebounded and committed 21 turnovers, but shot 50% (FG)-40%(3pt)-70% (FT), four in double digits and forced 22 turnovers themselves.
Two days later, Eastern took a nine-point lead (47-38) on Laron Griffin’s jumper but quickly fell silent from there. Cliff Ederaine split a pair of foul shots to cut UM’s lead to 49-48, then didn’t score for three minutes after that. The Eagles trimmed it to a point a couple times, but couldn’t flip it around.
What it means: Middle of the pack, but a big road win in Bozeman (only the ninth time in 36 tries) gives EWU the upper-hand over the Bobcats at this point.

Idaho State
Record: 3-10, 1-1
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Lost by 14, won by 2; 60.5 ppg for, 66.5 against; minus-6 scoring margin; 42-98 FG; 15-41 3pt; 22-35 FT.
Summary: Chase Grabau put up a career-best 31 in the loss and ISU kept up with Weber in the second half, but no one else scored in double figures. On Monday, two more three-pointers and three more two pointers (12) offset UNC hitting 10 more free throws (plus-2) and the fact that five Bengals scored just one more point than Morgan (11).
What it means: See above, replace road win in Bozeman with Greeley and MSU with UNC.

Montana
Record: 9-5, 2-0
Weekend: 2-0
Major superlatives: Won by 11, won by eight; 77 ppg for, 67.5 against; plus-9.5 scoring margin; 48-95 FG; 15-31 3pt; 43-56 FT.
Summary: Montana made 15-of-26 (57.7%) field goals in the first half and was 7-of-9 (77.8%) from three-point range against Portland State. Against EWU, an 18-1 run turned the tide and Mathias Ward scored a career-best 28 as the Griz shot 50.5% from the field in weekend 1
What it means: The start of a solid BSC season and the second 2-0 start in Big Sky play after weekend 1.

Montana State
Record: 6-7, 1-1
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Lost by 16, won by 13; 76 ppg for, 77.5 against; minus-1.5 scoring margin; 52-112 FG; 13-32 3pt; 35-50 FT.
Summary: The biggest win-loss swing goes to the Bobcats, who played … not good against EWU, then found itself against PSU to snap a four-game skid. Looking back, the only thing MSU did badly was allow 11 3-pointers to the Eagles. They hit 21 FGs to 27 for EWU in the same amount of shots.
What it means: A huge three-game road swing looms, with a chance to steal two road wins and momentum from teams purportedly weaker (Idaho State and Northern Arizona). Middle of the pack with four other schools.

Northern Arizona
Record: 5-9, 1-1
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Won by 9, lost by 16; 68.5 ppg for, 72 against; minus-3.5 scoring margin; 49-119 FG; 17-40 3pt; 22-34 FT.
Summary: Simple enough. Won the game they should have, lost the game they should have (maybe, depending on who you ask).
What it means: Middle of the pack with four other schools, won at home, lost on the road.

Northern Colorado
Record: 4-9, 1-1
Weekend: 1-1
Major superlatives: Won by 16, lost by 2; 67.5 ppg for, 60.5 against; plus-7.5 scoring margin; 44-80 FG; 12-20 3pt; 35-52 FT.
Summary: A last-second layup went awry. Sophomore guard Tate Unruh, the team’s leading scorer, sat out most of the game with a left ankle injury sustained early in the first half and played just seven minutes. Add Unruh, or even that layup make, and UNC might be 2-0. Also, a minus-10 turnover margin (17) in the game didn’t help
What it means: Unruh most likely is there for the return trip to Pokey. Go into Sacramento and get a win and things will be right again before a huge homestand against the state of Washington.

Portland State
Record: 6-8, 0-2
Weekend: 0-2
Major superlatives: Lost by 11, lost by 13; 68.5 ppg for, 80.5 against; minus-12.0 scoring margin; 48-115 FG; 9-31 3pt; 32-41 FT.
Summary: The Vikings couldn’t defend against the Treasure State, allowing a combined 53% on field goals (56-105). Twenty-two missed 3-pointers, which is about right (PSU shot 27% in the pre-conference play and averaged 4.5 a game). Charles Odum didn’t show up early in either road game – 23.5 points in two games, but scored 37 of his 47 points in the second half.
What it means: Depends on whom you ask. They say you never lose in conference until you lose at home (or something to that effect). But starting 0-2 in conference and falling into a four-game tailspin can’t be good for confidence or egos.

Sacramento State
Record: 5-8, 0-2
Weekend: 0-2
Major superlatives: Lost by 9, lost by 11; 63.5 ppg for, 73.5 against; minus-10 scoring margin; 48-109 FG; 10-32 3pt; 21-37 FT.
Summary: Decent shooting, bad free throws. Three players in double figures for the weekend and a almost great game against Weber – down 40-27, Sac State pulled within 42-36 at the 15:27 mark, but never got closer – gives Hornet supporters mixed feelings. The Hornets had a fifth player in the last two seasons leave recently, as Walter Jackson announced he was leaving the program on Dec. 26, three days before the conference opener at NAU. Boosters have come out in support of Katz and noted he will get through his contract, which runs out after 2013-14.
What it means: See Portland State, change four-game skid to three.

Weber State
Record: 10-3, 2-0
Weekend: 2-0
Major superlatives: Lost by 14, won by 9; 76 ppg for, 63.5 against; plus-12.5 scoring margin; 48-101 FG; 16-39 3pt; 40-46 FT.
Summary: Ho-hum, kind of. Lillard went for 48 on opening weekend at home, but Scott Bamforth returned in a scoring aspect (20 points, 4.5 rebounds & 4 assists) while shooting 42 percent from the field and 91 percent from the free throw line. Bamforth averaged 12.3 points in the month of December prior to Big Sky play. Jordan Richardson, Darin Mahoney and Kyle Tresnak have also come together in Kyle Bullinger’s absence and will be the starting lineup from now on.
What it means: See Montana. Things will start to separate for WSU (and the Griz) this weekend.

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