GAME NOTES: The Montana Grizzlies go in search of their third straight win when they entertain the San Diego Toreros in non-conference action on Saturday evening.
After opening the season at 2-0, San Diego has lost three of its last four to fall to an even 3-3. The Toreros are coming off a dreadful offensive performance as they scored a mere 39 points in a 19-point loss at UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday. This is the second of four straight USD will play away from home, and the team returns to San Diego to play three in a row from Dec. 8-15. The Toreros will open West Coast Conference play at home versus Portland on Jan. 3, 2013.
Montana dropped a 72-65 decision to Colorado State in the season opener, but bounced back to beat Minot State (82-53) and Idaho (66-63). The Grizzlies aren't scheduled to play a team from a traditional power conference this season, as the closest it will come is when it battles BYU next Wednesday in Provo, Utah. Montana kicks off Big Sky Conference play at Northern Arizona on Dec. 19.
The all-time series between these two teams in knotted at 3-3, and the Griz pulled even by notching a 73-60 win last year in San Diego.
With a .500 record on the year, it's not surprising that the Toreros average roughly the same number of points that they allow (65.7-62.2 ppg). The team is shooting 43.5 percent from the field, which includes a 35.1 percent effort from three-point range, while its foes are connecting on just 40.7 percent of their total shots, with 31.8 percent of their long-range tries finding the bottom of the net. Johnny Dee (15.0 ppg) and Chris Manresa (14.0 ppg) are the only two USD players averaging double figures in the scoring column, although the latter has only appeared in one game and is questionable for this bout due to a bad back. No one guy grabs more than the 5.5 rpg Ken Rancifer does, and Chris Anderson hands out 5.0 apg. The Toreros were completely inept in their recent loss at UC Santa Barbara, shooting just 24.5 percent from the floor and missing 16 of their 19 three-point tries. Dee's eight points were the high- water mark for USD. Rancifer pulled down nine rebounds.
Montana has used the three-point shot to maximum effectiveness here in the early going, as 25-of-53 attempts have found the bottom of the net (.472). The team's overall shooting effort stands at 47.6 percent, helping it average 71.0 ppg. The Griz have two double-digit scorers in Kareem Jamar (14.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Mathias Ward (13.3 ppg), but they are being beaten regularly on the boards (-7.7 rebounding margin). The team's defensive effort yields 62.7 ppg, with foes hitting their shots just 36.9 percent of the time, which houses a three-point effort of only 25.6 percent. Jamar (17 points, seven rebounds) and Ward (16 points) were at it again in Montana's three-point win over Idaho, as the team dropped 7-of-15 long-range attempts while defending the Vandals' long-range tries to the tune of a .263 effort (5-of-19). UM finished the game with a 34-31 rebounding edge, the first time it has won that battle this season.
The Toreros lack scoring punch but they're gamers and you can be sure they will play hard. That said, expect the Griz to prevail at home, as they ride another solid effort from their dynamic duo to win No. 3 on the season.
Game Date and Time