Griz fulfill expectations, punch second straight NCAA Tournament ticket

BOISE, Idaho — The pressure of a season filled with unparalleled expectations culminated in a perfectly fitting moment for a team that took every single team’s best shot all season long.

From Bobby Moorehead’s momentum-shifting block to Ahmaad Rorie’s steely demeanor on the way to earning Big Sky Tournament MVP honors and ability to steer the Grizzlies to Donavane Dorsey’s unbelievable ability to answer the bell, the Montana found a way to endure and advance once again.

Moorehead’s block led to Rorie’s mid-range jump shot to give the Griz their first lead with 11 minutes to play in the Big Sky Tournament championship game against Eastern Washington. Three minutes later, Eastern Washington’s menacing freshman Kim Aiken blasted Griz power guard Sayeed Pridgett on a fast-break, resulting in a wrestling match under the basket and technical fouls on each team.

As the scuffle cleared, Montana head coach Travis DeCuire used the moment to ignite the largely partisan crowd clad in maroon at CenturyLink Arena. DeCuire waved his hands enthusiastically, his trademark snarl painted on his face, ushering the momentum as the Griz sprinted into the Big Dance for the second straight year.

Playing in its eighth Big Sky Tournament game in 10 years and its second straight against Eastern Washington, Montana proved it can endure adversity and prevail on the Big Sky’s biggest stage. The Griz overcame an 11-point deficit, using the aura in the arena to finally fulfill the substantial expectations that have dominated a trying yet fulfilling season.

Rorie scored all of his 11 points on the way to earning Big Sky Tournament MVP, Moorehead reaffirmed his nickname of “Big Shot Bob”, Dorsey rose to the occasion to play his best defensive game as a Grizzly while hitting all four of his shots from beyond the arc and Montana earned the right to be called champions for the second straight year with a 68-62 win over third-seeded EWU on Saturday night in Idaho’s capital city.

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