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Griz grab another road win: Johnson scores 25 in second half as Montana routs Jacks
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Griz grab another road win: Johnson scores 25 in second half as Montana routs Jacks

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013110 griz v jacks
Montana guard Anthony Johnson switches direction on Northern Arizona’s Gabe Rogers, right, and Nick Larson on Saturday in Flagstaff, Ariz. The Griz won, 84-64. Photo by RICK WACHA/Arizona Daily Sun

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Coach Wayne Tinkle provided the kindling.

Anthony Johnson lit the match. Will Cherry splashed gas on the fire, and the Montana men's basketball team left Northern Arizona in the ashes in an 84-64 Big Sky Conference win Saturday night in front of 1,437 fans at the Walkup Skydome.

Johnson scored 25 of his 28 points after intermission and Will Cherry had 15 of his career-high 19 in the second half as the Griz guard combo combined for 40 of the team's 55 second-half points.

And they did it by driving right through the heart of NAU's defense, which explained the team's 76 percent shooting in the second half.

"At halftime coach kind of lit a fire under me a little bit," Johnson said. "I wasn't playing as best as I know how. I looked at my teammates and my teammates said, "C'mon, let's go, we gotta get it going.' My mindframe just changed. Shots started falling, we started getting stops, we started getting rebounds and pushing the tempo."

Did they ever. Northern Arizona, which had won four straight, led 45-43 on an inside bucket by Cameron Jones with 12:39 to play. Jones led the Jacks with 22 points, the first time he's scored more than 20 in a loss this season.

Over the next seven minutes, the Griz outscored the Jacks 21-3 to open a 64-48 lead from which the Jacks could not recover.

Johnson had 11 of his points during the decisive burst, Cherry added four and Derek Selvig nailed a trey to give the Griz their first double-digit lead of the night.

"That's our senior, that's our leader stepping up when we needed him the most," Tinkle said of Johnson. "Once he got us going, that led to everybody thinking that the hoop looked like a manhole cover."

Johnson admitted to feeling challenged by the play of NAU's Jones, who outscored Johnson 11-3 in the first half.

"Cam Jones, he gets me going," Johnson said of NAU's junior guard. "He's such a great player. In the first half he was just lighting us up, so I wanted to match his intensity."

Johnson and Cherry seemed to feed off one another.

"He's aggressive, I'm aggressive; that's what this team needs to be successful," Johnson said of Cherry. "If we do what we do and play our style of basketball, we know what we're capable of."

Cherry added a team-best seven rebounds and five steals.

"The second half we really came out and took it to their guards on the defensive end and the offensive end," Cherry said. "The second half we were getting to the basket. I don't remember very many jumpers."

Neither did NAU coach Mike Adras.

"Anthony Johnson decided to take over," said Adras, who has watched Johnson score 32, 24, 22 and 28 points against his team. "We didn't have anybody who wanted to defend him and I think he realized that and decided, ‘You know what? This is my game and I'm going to do what I want to do. And once (Cherry) saw that Anthony was driving on everybody, that's what Will decided to do. I mean why not? No one wants to defend.

"I won't be crying when (Johnson) departs."

The win pushed the Griz (6-4 in league, 15-7 overall) past the Lumberjacks (5-5, 11-10) and into sole possession of fourth place in the standings. After Sunday's Montana State-Northern Colorado game, the Griz will be tied for third with one of those two teams.

"That stuff is starting to shape up," Tinkle said. "We have to stay focused on what's ahead and the guys did that all week long in preparation for Northern Colorado and we fired them up in the second half tonight. We can't forget what got us to this point. It's nice that we have a little mojo on the road, now let's go home and play like we have been."

The Griz play four of their last six league games at Dahlberg Arena, starting Friday night against first-place Weber State.

NOTES: Led by Johnson's 9-for-9 effort, the Griz were 18 of 21 from the charity stripe. ... UM was 4 of 8 from 3-point range; NAU was 5 of 19. ... The Griz won the rebounding battle 30-25. ... The Griz had nine steals, led by Cherry's five and Johnson's three.

MONTANA (84)

Mins FG-A FT-A Reb PF A Pts

f-McGillis 20 4-6 1-2 5 4 2 9

c-Qvale 29 3-4 1-2 3 1 3 7

g-Staudacher 27 2-6 2-2 1 0 1 7

g-Cherry 27 7-10 5-6 7 1 1 19

g-Johnson 31 9-14 9-9 4 2 2 28

Young 10 2-4 0-0 0 0 0 5

Selvig 20 1-3 0-0 3 2 3 3

Ward 10 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0

Taylor 13 2-3 0-0 1 0 0 4

Stockton 10 1-1 0-0 0 3 1 2

Banny 3 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 0

Totals 200 31-52 18-21 30 14 14 84

NORTHERN ARIZONA (64)

Mins FG-A FT-A Reb PF A Pts

f-Larson 27 1-5 0-0 6 3 2 3

c-Lepley 19 4-9 5-7 2 3 1 13

g-C. Jones 38 9-18 2-2 3 0 4 22

g-Rogers 28 1-6 0-0 1 3 0 3

g-Olubuyi 37 0-0 2-4 2 3 7 2

D. Jones 16 6-10 1-1 1 2 2 14

Johannsen 21 3-6 1-2 5 3 0 7

Wallace 11 0-1 0-0 2 2 0 0

Saldivar 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Totals 200 24-55 11-16 25 19 16 64

Halftime score: NAU 30, UM 29.

3-point goals: UM 4-8 (Johnson 1-1, Young 1-1, Selvig 1-1, Staudacher 1-4, McGillis 0-1), NAU 5-19 (C. Jones 2-4, Larson 1-4, D. Jones 1-4, Rogers 1-6).

Turnovers: UM 11 (Johnson 5), NAU 14 (Olubuyi 3).

Blocked shots: UM 1 (Selvig), NAU 1 (Lepley).

Steals: UM 9 (Cherry 5), NAU 5 (Lepley 2).

Officials: Scott Twardoski, Jeff Pfaff, Mark Cook).

Attendance: 1,437

Sports editor Bob Meseroll can be reached at 523-5265 or at sportsdesk@missoulian.com.

 

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