MOSCOW, Idaho — Even a missing shoe could not stop Mack Anderson during an incredible second-half stretch for the Montana sophomore during an 82-71 win over Idaho on Saturday night.
The Bozeman product scored a career-high 15 points in the Montana men's basketball team's road victory over the Vandals and even pulled down a rebound on a defensive possession after his shoe came off on the other end of the court.
Eleven of those 15 points came during a personal 11-2 run midway through the second half where the 6-foot-9 forward seemed impossible to stop. He also tallied four rebounds in 19 minutes and played strong defense throughout the game.
No other Montana player has tallied 11 or more points in a row for the team this season.
“It’s great, a young man like him, at the beginning of the year he was starting and then he’s struggling for a long stretch,” Montana head coach Travis DeCuire said. “But he hung in there and kept working on his game, finally he kinda got some mojo going on the offensive end and he’s been very consistent for us in the role he was in.”
The mojo, or whatever you want to put it, was certainly there. Anderson is a springy, spindly forward and he was using every bit of his length on both ends of the floor.
He had hook shots from the side of the rim, putback slams and a variety of moves under the basket to either get a shot to go down or draw contact — sometimes both at once.
But despite the Anderson run that gave Montana a 58-47 lead with a little more than 10 minutes to go in regulation, the Vandals were not quick to back down.
Especially standout senior guard Trevon Allen, who scored a game-high 36 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field, which included four made 3-pointers.
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Following Anderson’s run, Allen had one of his own for Idaho. He scored seven straight points to pull Idaho within 58-53, but Sayeed Pridgett answered with a tough shot under the basket.
Josh Vazquez also hit a triple on a four-on-five situation moments later to give Montana a six-point lead. Idaho got no closer than four the rest of the way.
“I just came down and I saw everybody else in the lane and Josh (Vazquez) always trails plays in case we have someone leak out for the defense. I knew when I turned around either him or Timmy were going to be there,” said Montana’s Kendal Manuel, who was credited with an assist on the play. “Sure enough Josh was there and he knocked it down.”
Allen came out firing from everywhere in the first five minutes of the game, scoring Idaho’s first 11 points. Montana was able to make adjustments and slowed him down throughout the rest of the half, but the Vandals also got a huge boost from freshman walk-on Gabe Quinnett.
After hitting 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions midway through the first half, he found the bottom of the net on a third, all within two minutes of game time.
Despite the unusual flurry of Idaho 3-pointers — the Vandals averaged 4.7 3-point makes per game coming into the contest — it was not able to build any separation from the Grizzlies early on.
Vazquez, coming off the bench for the third game in a row for the Grizzlies, scored eight first-half points, including two 3-pointers. His most impressive play, however, was a coast-to-coast layup that he managed to finish over Idaho’s Quinton Forrest.
“Those guys are so dynamic with what they can do offensively. They can score from all five spots,” interim Idaho head men’s basketball coach Zac Claus said. “You’re talking about a team that leads the league in 3-point shooting (percentage) but yet is driving to the rim and making plays off the bounce. They’re in first place for a reason. That’s a really good team, they are well coached, they execute and when they need to, they get stops.”
Montana moved to 14-10 on the season and remained atop the Big Sky Conference standings with a 10-3 record in league play. The Grizzlies will be at home for its next two games — dates with Idaho State and Weber State — before heading eastbound on I-90 for the second Cat-Griz battle of the year.
Idaho dropped to 6-20 on the season and 2-10 in conference play.
“It was a struggle for both teams defensively, to give up 54%, 60 to win it. I think the biggest thing for us was that we forced turnovers,” DeCuire said. “If you get 12 more shots than your opponent and shoot for percentage typically you’ll win.”
Jordan Hansen covers a bunch of stuff for the Missoulian and 406 Sports. Shout at him on Twitter @jordyhansen or shoot him an email at Jordan.Hansen@406mtsports.com