On Gonzagas-eve, the general chatter surrounding this game was tagged with the cynical phrase ‘trap game.’ The die hards pointed to the tournament experience of this Montana squad. They muttered pessimistic nothings about the defensive prowess of the Griz. They even worried that the minds of these young Bluejay athletes had been compromised with the forgetfulness to prepare for this Big Sky contender.
It was all for naught.
Creighton started 8-8 from the field. This included two dunks and a lay-up by Martin Krampelj, a man who I’d decried as “washed” and a “role-player” before the game started. It featured a pair of threes by Damien Jefferson and Mitch Ballock, and a trey from Ty-Shon Alexander before Marcus Zegarowski missed a floater in the lane. That’s 5-5 from three. A blitzing start, a rolling hot fire of classic Bluejay basketball.
Paired with this, of course, was a lackadaisical effort on defense. Who needs it when you’re producing more gas than the sun itself?
Montana kept pace. They entered this game shooting 60% from the field on the year, so it wasn’t all that surprising for them to keep pace. Sayeed Pridgett and Michael Oguine kept the Griz close in this one, but two men can’t stop a waterfall of threes from four different players.
At the end of the half, with the Jays closing on a pretty impressive run, it was 49-40. Sayeed had more than half of Montana’s points at half with 21, but the Jays had five players scoring 5+, with Krampelj punishing Montana’s lack of inside presence with 14 at the half.
The massive hot ball of three point shooting prowess continued on in the second half. After going 7-10 in the first, and 16-24 from the field, the Jays proceeded to sink back to back threes by Krampelj and Jefferson to start the half. The lead would blossom to 18 with a three from Davion Mintz, pretty much icing the game and sending the fans home full of anxiety for Saturday’s tilt with Gonzaga.