MISSOULA — Ahmaad Rorie followed up arguably his worst offensive game in a Griz uniform with one of his his best performances in maroon and silver.
The redshirt junior guard scored a season-high 27 points and Sayeed Pridgett recorded his first career double-double as they fed off of each other in Montana’s 86-68 win over the Cal State Northridge Matadors on Sunday at Dahlberg Arena.
“I just recharged, cleared my mind and bounced back,” Rorie said.
Rorie’s 27-point game is two points off of his career high and is his highest total since he scored 27 last March against Idaho State. He got into rhythm early and made nine of the 16 shots he attempted, including three of four from beyond the arc. He converted six free throws on seven attempts.
He added five rebounds and two assists in what was a much-needed bounce-back performance after he scored four points on 1-of-12 shooting against Stanford on Wednesday.
“It’s a sign of someone who’s very confident and knows that they’re a good player, knows they’re a good shooter and believes it,” Griz head coach Travis DeCuire said.
Sayeed Pridgett, the first player off the bench, scored a season-high 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting for his highest point total since he scored 28 on Jan. 21 at Sacramento State. He played primarily at power forward, was a playmaker with the ball and took advantage of mismatches against smaller players.
He had a career-high 12 rebounds, which impressed DeCuire the most because it allowed Pridgett to push the ball in transition to create scoring opportunities. He had four assists to two turnovers, and he added two blocks and one steal before he fouled out.
“One of my friends (from California who goes to school at UM) told me that I couldn’t get a double-double, so I was definitely going to attempt it just for the challenge of it,” Pridgett said.
The Griz showed an aggressiveness and attacked the paint on offense, gaining a 34-24 advantage on points in the paint. They outrebounded CSUN, 36-27, and had a 19-7 advantage in second-chance points.
Defensively, they forced 16 turnovers, off of which they scored 17 points. CSUN came in averaging just 10.2 turnovers per game, which ranked 11th in Division I.
“That’s what we’re trying to get better at is scoring off of our scrap,” DeCuire said. “… We’re doing a better job of playing with some pace and attacking the rim.”
Rorie scored 14 of his 27 points in the second half as Montana outscored CSUN 45-32. The Griz shot 50 percent in the first half and 53.3 percent in the second half, when they spread the floor and ran fewer sets.
It was the Rorie and Pridgett show in the first half as they combined for 29 points to build a 41-36 lead at the break. Pridgett scored 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting, and Rorie scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
“He was getting it going, so I was clearing out for him,” Rorie said. “He was finding me on some looks, and I feel like he was giving me some passes, too.”
The Griz held CSUN to 38.7 percent in the second half after the Matadors shot 61.9 percent in the first half.
CSUN had three players score in double figures. Tavrion Dawson and Michael Warren scored 14 points each, and Lyrik Shreiner added 12.
“We over exaggerated our help in the paint and forced them to pass the ball more than they wanted to,” DeCuire said. “It was harder for them to go one on one.”
Notes: Mike Oguine provided highlight dunks and scored 13 points to go with seven rebounds and two steals. … Jamar Akoh stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and three blocks. … Freshman guard Timmy Falls and freshman forward Karl Nicholas both sat out with minor injuries. DeCuire said both should be good to go Wednesday. Nicholas was in uniform, and Falls was in street clothes.