Game #9-555: Montana Grizzlies vs. Syracuse OrangeMarch 21, 2013 9:57 pm
San Jose, CA
Going to the NCAA tournament is an interesting process. Within an hour or so of the selections and seeding being announced, each school's designated contact is called by the NCAA's travel agency about plans for reaching the first game. Generally, school contingents arrive two days before their first contest. Besides the teams, coaching staff, administrators, and other bench personnel like trainers and managers, the NCAA pays for a mascot, band director, and certain numbers of band members and cheerleaders to attend the tournament. For travel over a certain distance, air travel is arranged, generally by charter. Hotel accommodations and local ground transportation arrangements at the tournament site are generally set in advance and matched to the teams after the selections; e.g. X hotel will host the lower seeded team in game 4. Because the NCAA makes these arrangements for the makeup of each school's contingent (read that: the NCAA will pay for the travel of the band, mascot and cheer squad), the pageantry of each game is always enhanced by the performances of the bands, cheer squads and mascots.
In the final game of the day in San Jose, the fourth seed in the eastern regional, Syracuse, played the thirteen seed, Montana. The two schools had never met in basketball, although their football teams had played to a 6-6 tie in 1915. Montana had appeared in nine prior NCAA tourneys with a 2-10 record, winning games in 1975 over Utah State and in 2006 over Nevada. Montana (25-6, 19-1 in the Big Sky) arrived at the tournament by winning the Big Sky's automatic bid, defeating Northern Colorado and Weber State in the conference tournament; the Grizzlies had won their prior six games, last losing in the BracketBusters game at Davidson on February 23. Coach Wayne Tinkle is bringing his Montana team to the postseason for the fourth consecutive time, tying the school record held by Mike Montgomery who coached Cal in the game just prior to this one; some of his other predecessors as Montana head coach in the postseason include names you will know like Jud Heathcote, Jim Brandenburg, Stew Morrill, Blaine Taylor and Larry Krystowiak. Montana had to play without starting forward Matias Ward, who started the first twenty-four games of the season, but was injured in the February 16 Idaho State game and has since undergone surgery.
Syracuse teams had appeared in thirty-five prior NCAA tournaments with a record of 56-35, reaching the Final Four four times, most recently in their national championship year of 2003. Syracuse (26-9, 11-7 in the Big East) received an at-large tournament bid, having lost the Big East tournament to Louisville after defeating Seton Hall, Pittsburgh and top-seed Georgetown to reach the final. The Orangemen tied Notre Dame for fifth in the conference regular season. Coach Jim Boeheim began coaching the Orange in 1976, and has only missed reaching the NCAA tournament seven times.
Syracuse was playing its final tournament as a member of the Big East, before a football-driven move to the ACC.
The first four minutes of the game saw Syracuse jump out to an 8-2 lead, behind 6 points from forward C. J. Fair; Montana center Eric Hutchison picked up two quick fouls and was replaced by freshman Andy Martin. A 12-2 Syracuse run, punctuated with superhoops from Brandon Triche and Fair, made the score 20-6 and the Orangemen were off to the races. Triche ended the first half with two fouls, followed scoring eight straight points making the halftime score38-15, Orange. The story is told by the shooting percentages: Syracuse 56%, Montana 20%. The smothering SU zone kept the Griz away from the basket, where they were 1-10 from behind the three-point arc.
The second half was much like the first, Syracuse outscoring Montana 43-19 while using all thirteen players available; the half began with a 17-4 Orange run. The Montana media noted quietly that Big Sky runner-up Weber State might have been a better matchup for Syracuse, with their outside shooting. A number of Montana reserves got significant game time during the second period.
In the end, no Montana player scored more than the five points contributed by each of guard Jordan Gregory and forwards Spencer Coleman, Kareem Jamar, Michael Weisner and Jake Wiley. Syracuse scoring was led by Triche with twenty and Fair with thirteen; each was in double figures in the first half. DaJuan Coleman added twelve points in fifteen minutes. Orange guard Michael Carter-Williams and forward Jerami Grant had eight rebounds each to lead the game.
Syracuse advanced to play California, 64-61 winner over UNLV in the game just prior to this one. Montana will defend its two year hold on the Big Sky title next year; alas, it always ends in a loss.
SYRACUSE 81, MONTANA 34
MONTANA 25-7 (19-1) -- K. Jamar 2-8 0-0 5; W. Cherry 1-12 0-0 2; K. DeShields 0-2 3-4 3; M. Weisner 1-4 0-0 3; J. Gregory 1-7 3-4 5; S. Coleman 2-9 0-0 5; E. Hutchison 1-1 1-2 3; J. Wiley 2-3 1-2 5; A. Martin 0-1 0-0 0; K. Henderson 0-3 0-0 0; N. Emerson 0-1 0-0 0; M. Young 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 11-54 8-12 34.
SYRACUSE 27-9 (11-7) -- M. Carter-Williams 2-3 0-1 4; B. Triche 5-6 8-10 20; J. Southerland 3-8 2-2 9; C. Fair 5-8 2-3 13; J. Grant 1-3 3-4 5; T. Cooney 2-5 2-2 7; R. Christmas 4-6 1-3 9; D. Coleman 4-9 4-5 12; B. Keita 1-1 0-1 2; M. Lyde-Cajuste 0-2 0-0 0; R. DeRemer 0-0 0-0 0; N. Hart 0-1 0-0 0; G. Hoffman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-52 22-31 81.
Three-point goals: UMT 4-31 (W. Cherry 0-6; K. Jamar 1-5; M. Weisner 1-2; K. Henderson 0-3; J. Gregory 0-5; K. DeShields 0-2; M. Young 1-3; S. Coleman 1-4; N. Emerson 0-1), SYR 5-11 (B. Triche 2-2; J. Southerland 1-3; N. Hart 0-1; C. Fair 1-1; T. Cooney 1-4); Rebounds: UMT 29 (W. Cherry 5), SYR 40 (M. Carter-Williams 8); Assists: UMT 5 (K. Jamar 1), SYR 21 (M. Carter-Williams 9); Total Fouls -- UMT 22, SYR 8; Fouled Out: UMT-None; SYR-None.
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